Should children have the right to die in Canada?

Canada’s euthanasia legislation is under constant pressure to expand the grounds for eligibility for medical assistance in dying. The latest incident is a plea from a single mother of four boys in Quebec to allow doctors to kill her severely disabled four-year-old son.

Abel Tremblay-Pelletier, the son of Karie-Lyn Pelletier, of the tiny town of L’Islet in southern Quebec, suffers from Mednik (or Kamouraska) syndrome, an extremely rare and incurable genetic disease which is mostly found in Quebec. It has left him intellectually and physically disabled. He often has crises which bring him to the brink of death.

Quebec media reported that two local politicians had a meeting with Ms Pelletier to discuss Abel’s future. At the moment, children are not able to access MAiD, but she is calling for a change in the law. “What we all want is for this to happen in the best possible conditions, both for Abel and for us, because seeing our boy slowly fade away is even more difficult than having to accept the end," she said.

Michel Bureau, a Quebec doctor who represents the Commission sur les soins de fin de vie (Commission on end of life care), a right-to-die group, says that it is becoming obvious that there need to be protocols for children as well.

A federal parliamentary committee investigating various aspects of end-of-life eligibility held its first meeting on June 21.

Dr Bureau acknowledges that a slippery slope into eugenics is possible. “That's what's dangerous; a slippery slope that lets only those who are beautiful and perfect live," he warns.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

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