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

Publié le 13 Nov, 2017

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.

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

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