Challenging hastened death for minors

01 April 2023
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A special committee of MPs and senators has recommended making minors eligible for medically hastened death. Their report also recommends allowing advance requests, thus opening medical assistance in dying (MAiD) to people no longer able to consent. The committee’s February report recommends the government make these changes to the law. 

The report recommends no minimum age limit, thus expanding MAiD to minors deemed able to make the decision. It says parents should be consulted “where appropriate” when their minor children are considering MAiD but the will of the minor takes priority. It would ultimately be the child’s decision. 

This change would be harmful, as minors are still developing the capacity to make informed decisions. The part of the brain that controls decision-making and judgment doesn’t fully mature until around age 25. 

Currently minors make medical decisions of increasing importance as they age. Mature youth may be able to refuse treatment, so some argue they should be able to choose to end their lives via MAiD. 

But refusing treatment is completely different from MAiD. In the first instance it’s the disease or illness that causes death. In the second it’s the intentional action of another person that ends a life. 

The first MAiD law, passed in 2016, limited MAiD to people nearing death. When a lower court in Quebec found that limit unconstitutional, the government didn’t appeal the decision. 

Instead it introduced a bill to expand MAiD to people who were not dying.  

This same shift could happen again with minors. The new committee report does recommend limiting MAiD to youth whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable. But it seems likely that initial limit would be removed over time. 

Another problematic recommendation, allowing advance requests for MAID, means a person no longer able to consent could have their life ended via MAiD. 

This would remove a critical safeguard and set a disturbing precedent. In fact the committee heard from witnesses who proposed MAiD for severely disabled infants, who clearly would not be able to consent. 

An advance request is made by a person who thinks life would not be worth living if they were no longer able to enjoy certain activities or became too reliant on the care of others. A person who makes an advance request could have their life ended by MAID, even if they do not seem to be unhappy or suffering at the time. 

A person can’t know how they will feel ahead of an event. It’s a presumption based on fear or rejection of anticipated suffering.  

Advance requests usually assume life with a disability isn’t worth living. It’s a misconception that people with disabilities are less happy or less able to enjoy life than others. This also flies in the face of the gospel. The Bible teaches that all humans are made by God and loved by Him, and thus all have dignity and worth. 

A committee report by itself does not change the law. It only recommends changes. The government may point to a report as a reason to change the law or use it to gauge public opinion about a possible change. 

With your support the EFC continues to advocate for the protection of children and youth. Please join us in asking the government not to expand MAiD any further. We are asking for Track Two MAiD (for people who aren’t near death) to be repealed, to end this special pathway to hastened death for people with disabilities. (See our Action Kit to Halt Expansion of MAID to Include Mental Illness Alone.) Let’s continue to seek protection for Canadians in vulnerable moments. 

Please continue to pray. Pray for God’s intervention. Pray for God’s people to reach out to support those who are vulnerable. Pray for wisdom for our lawmakers. 

It’s best to let your MP know you don’t want these changes before a law is introduced. Now is the best time to contact your MP to say you don’t support MAiD for mature minors or by advance request. Ask your MP to stop MAiD expansion. 

How you can help  

  • Pray for Canadians who are vulnerable, for lawmakers and for the good of our country.  
  • Find your MP’s contact information at Tell your MP you do not want MAID expanded to minors or by advance request. 
  • Share your concerns about this issue with friends and family. Pass along this issue of Canada Watch or point them to

Also in this issue: Meet Karen Fishwick, new EFC VP admin and finance, Meet Jon Fuller, new EFC resident missiologist, A note from EFC President David Guretzki.