Canada: Assisted suicide for minors - paediatricians questioned more and more



Since the legalisation of assisted suicide in Canada, in June 2016, paediatricians are being increasingly questioned about assisted suicide, by minors and parents alike. A survey carried out at that time already showed that paediatricians were in favour of extending this authorisation to mature minors. 11% of them have had discussions on ways of helping minor patients to die.

 

 Currently, a new study compiling responses from 1,040 practitioners, published by the Canadian Pediatric Society[1], confirms that the quality of palliative care for minors must be a major priority. Palliative care must be improved and made more accessible. However, the study also shows that euthanasia has become a recurring issue for patients and their families:

 

. 35 paediatricians announced that they have had "exploratory discussions" with a total of 60 patients under 18 years of age in the last year,

. 9 paediatricians have received an explicit assisted dying request from 17 children under the age of 18,

. 118 other paediatricians announced that they have had exploratory discussions on assisted dying with the parents of 419 sick children

.  45 practitioners have seen the parents of 91 children who are requesting assisted suicide for their own child.

 

 A second survey with responses from 29% of the 2,000 physicians initially contacted shows that, although 46% of paediatricians believe that assisted suicide should be available to mature minors, i.e. those deemed to be mentally mature and capable of understanding the consequences of their own decisions, only 19% are prepared to participate in this type of procedure. 37% of paediatricians "believe that medically assisted dying should never be considered for a minor".

 

A report on medically assisted dying for mature minors is to be presented to the Canadian Parliament in December 2018.

 

 [1] Canadian Pediatric Society.


Sources: 

Daily Mail, Nathanie Rahhal (30/10/17) ; Aleteia, John Burger (28/10/17) ; La presse.ca, Maija Kappler (26/10/2017)