Canadian Hospital May Soon Euthanize Kids — Without Parental Consent

By Nancy Flory Published on October 17, 2018

A Canadian hospital for kids may soon euthanize sick children — in some cases, without their parents’ consent. 

Assisted Suicide for Kids

Euthanasia is already legal in Canada. They’ve been euthanizing people 18 and older as of 2016. Now they want to end the lives of sick children.

Last month, doctors at a Toronto hospital wrote an article that was published in a reputable journal. The doctors discussed how they will euthanize “capable minors.” They wrote about sharing it with parents after the “reflection period,” meaning after death.

The family is usually quite involved with end-of-life decisions, but not always. If “a capable patient explicitly indicates that they do not want their family members involved in their decision-making, although health care providers may encourage the patient to reconsider and involve their family, ultimately the wishes of capable patients with respect to confidentiality must be respected.”

No Parental Consent

Ontario doesn’t require parents of “capable minors” to be involved in the kids’ decision to refuse treatment. This means if a sick kid doesn’t want their parents to know, the hospital won’t tell them. According to the Sick Kids policy, there’s no legal reason why parents must be involved in assisted death, either.

Interesting Timing

The Canadian Council of Academies will in December release a statement on assisted dying. They have until then to report on the medical opinion about euthanasia for kids, among other issues. The Council is “looking at extending so-called assisted dying to patients under 18,” reported The Catholic Register. 

Conscientious Objection

The article doesn’t come as a shock to some. Bioethicist Bridget Campion works at the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute. She stated that the practice of euthanasia is already legal in many places. “Now that it is legal, many practitioners are saying, ‘How do we do this?’ I’m not surprised at all.”

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Campion also said that opponents of the practice are fighting for conscientious objection:

It’s a tough thing to know what to do next under the circumstances. This is now legal. In my opinion, if we are committed to building a culture of life, forget the legislation. That ship has sailed. There are some things that we absolutely must make sure stay in place — that there can be Catholic health care, that there can be conscientious objection. But, to me, the biggest thing is, ‘OK, how do we build a culture of life? How do we build a culture of care?’ If we can do that and make it so that people don’t want medical assistance in dying, then we will have achieved something.

Last week Live Action tweeted that the idea of euthanizing children without parental consent was “sickening.”

Deacon Larry Worthen serves as the executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada. He said last year that conscientious objection in Canada “hangs by a thread.” 

“There are many of us fighting for this right, but the concern is that in a society where killing a patient is seen to be a compassionate and merciful act, then those who refuse to do it are by definition uncompassionate and uncharitable.”

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