Mature minors should have access to medical assistance in dying, according to a new report from Canada’s assisted-dying committee.
The news comes mere days after the federal Liberal government decided to pause their plans to expand access to assisted-dying to persons suffering from mental illness.
The Special Joint Committee recommended the Government of Canada give terminally-ill minors the authority to request euthanasia if the minor is believed to have sound judgment.
“The committee believes that eligibility for MAID [medical assistance in dying] should not be denied on the basis of age alone,” the report read. “For that reason, the committee recommends that the Government of Canada amend the eligibility criteria for MAID.”
The committee report said medical assistance in dying (MAID) would be limited to minors who have “requisite decision making capacity.”
Requisite decision-making capacity was not defined in the report, and is determined on a case-by-case basis between patients and MAID assessors, which are commonly doctors or nurses in Canada.
The report noted that rules surrounding assisted-death for minors should start strict, but may change.
“Most witnesses agreed that MAID should only be expanded to […] mature minors whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable, at least initially,” the report read.
Minors suffering from a terminal illness will benefit from control over the details of their death, the report argued, such as by being able to plan their death in a moment surrounded by family.
As the law stands today, though, parental guardianship would interfere with a child’s decision to medically end their life. As a result, the committee made a second recommendation to the Government of Canada.
The committee recommended that the Government involve parents in a MAID consultation, but ultimately suggested that the Government make a child’s decision final, and capable of overriding their parent’s guardianship.