Canada is being urged to delay plans to expand assisted suicide to mentally ill people and possibly even “mature minors” as young as 12.
The country already has some of the world’s most permissive rules on euthanasia, and from next year will allow for a “medically assisted death” if the person is suffering from mental health problems as their sole condition.
The government is also proposing to extend euthanasia to so-called mature minors – children under 18 who meet the same requirements as adults.
Mature minors is a loosely defined concept without a specific age; children who are considered able to make their own medical decisions would be able to request a medically assisted death.
Dying With Dignity Canada has written in support of extending eligibility to minors, proposing 12 as the minimum age.
However, human rights advocates say the country’s regulations lack necessary safeguards and devalue the lives of disabled people.
There were more than 10,000 deaths by euthanasia in Canada last year, an increase of about a third from the previous year, and advocates say that number will likely see an even greater spike.
In one case, Alan Nichols, a 61-year-old man who had a history of depression, was put to death without his family’s knowledge. In the application Mr Nichols filled out for euthanasia, the only medical condition he listed was hearing loss.
During his last trip to Canada, Pope Francis criticised what he has labelled the culture of waste that considers elderly and disabled people disposable.
“We need to learn how to listen to the pain” of the poor and most marginalised, the Pope said, lamenting the “patients who, in place of affection, are administered death”.
Three UN human rights experts wrote that Canada’s medical aid in dying law had a “discriminatory impact” on disabled people and was inconsistent with Canada’s obligations to uphold international human rights standards.
They opined that the law appeared to violate the UN’s universal declaration of human rights.
Read more via The Guardian