Toronto hospital preparing policy for euthanasia for youth over 18 that could one day apply to minors

Toronto hospital preparing policy for euthanasia for youth over 18 that could one day apply to minors

A team at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children has developed a draft policy on doctor-assisted dying that applies to youth aged 18 and older — the legal age restriction for “medical-aid in dying,” or MAID, in Canada. However, the policy was also developed “with an eye to a future when MAID may well become accessible to capable minors,” the team of bioethicists, palliative care doctors and others report in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

In the introduction to the article, they state, “Thus, this paper is intended as a road map through the still-emerging legal and ethical landscape of paediatric MAID.”

The Sick Kids’ working group says the hospital has willing doctors who could “safely and effectively” perform euthanasia for terminally ill youth 18 and older who meet the criteria as set out in federal law, and that it would be “antithetical” to its philosophy of care to have to transfer these patients to a strange and unfamiliar adult hospital. But it is a suggestion that euthanasia might one day take place without the involvement of parents that has provoked fresh controversy in the assisted-death debate.

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