In June 2016, Canada passed legislation that legalized physician-administered euthanasia (PAE) and physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The laws provided a way out for adults over the age of 18 who were suffering with a chronic or incurable disease or disability. Instead of calling it murder, those who agreed with the law called it “death with dignity.” And in Canada, the entire process is funded by the federal government.
Like abortion, which was supposed to have been a rare situation when made legal, assisted suicide has become more common than proponents expected. In October 2016, just over 2,000 Canadians died with medical assistance. The most recent statistics show that number has quickly risen. As of June 2018, exactly two years after the law passed, 3,714 Canadians have chosen medically-assisted death.
In some of these deaths, not all of the conditions were met. For example, an elderly woman in a retirement home was believed to only have a severe bladder infection, but her request to be euthanized was still granted. In another case, the mother of a 25-year old disabled woman named Candice Lewis, was pressured by doctors to kill her daughter during a two-week hospital stay. The mother did not go through with it, and instead filed a complaint against the hospital in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
While some are surprised by these cases, many pro-lifers throughout Canada believed that once assisted suicide became legal, the slippery slope would ensue. Many believed that children would become the next target. They were right.
According to a Canadian Pediatric Surveillance Program (CPSP) survey released in October 2017, 118 pediatricians admitted to having exploratory discussions with over 400 parents about whether or not it would be better for their child to receive medical assistance in dying (MAID). Most of the children were under the age of 13, but others were less than one month old. Also, nine pediatricians received specific requests from 17 minors for assisted death. Thankfully, it was illegal for the doctors to kill these children, even at the request of their parents.
Some people believe that allowing assisted suicide for adults over the age of 18 and not for minors is discriminatory. Shanaaz Gokool, CEO of Dying with Dignity Canada, says, “For us, this is fundamentally an issue about discrimination. How can we look away from the 16-year old that has enduring, intolerable suffering that can make other health-care decisions? How can we look away from them in the face of that suffering and deny them their right to an assisted death?”
Others simply believe that children who wish to die should have the same rights as adults. Just last month, physicians at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto (also known as SickKids) outlined plans to assist minors in committing suicide, which is expected to take place “in the near future.” The paper, published in the British Medical Journal and backed by the University of Toronto’s Joint Center for Bioethics, stressed its commitment to “patient confidentiality,” meaning in certain MAID situations, the parents would not be informed.
According to the paper, “Usually, the family is intimately involved in this (end-of-life) decision-making process. If, however, 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.”
According to SickKids policy, parents in Ontario are not legally required to be involved in a capable minor’s decision to refuse further treatment. Because of this policy, some physicians and staff at the pediatric hospital believe a parent should not have the legal right to be involved in their capable child’s assisted suicide.
Ironically, Michael Apkin, the President and CEO of SickKids states that part of the hospital’s mission is to “improve the health of children by providing the best in family-centered care.”
The pro-life community in Canada may be losing the battle when it comes to legalizing assisted suicide, but some believe there are still other ways to fight against it. Catholic bioethicist, Bridget Campion says, “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.”
Now more than ever, creating that culture of life is of utmost importance. The lives of Canadian children depend on it.
~ Christian Patriot Daily