End-of-Life, Health Conditions/Diseases, Healthcare, Humanity, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Assisted Dying in Canada already exists for adults, but what about children?

I came across this article and it caught my eye. As one who is specializing in working with adults, children and families where a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness or disease or has a degenerative disease or progressive illness; it makes sense why it would.

Not a professional work area for everyone. I am always searching  for articles, blog posts, links, and shares that relate to this topic.

This particular article in the National Post in Canada that is focusing on assisted death for children is timely. Canada has legislation in place, as does the province of Quebec having it’s own, which goes a bit deeper than Canada’s, allowing for assisted medical dying.

Individuals have to meet all the criteria, meaning they are terminally ill, have a progressive or degenerative disease or illness and basically are suffering with no hope at all of recovery. They will eventually die.

Pediatricians are increasingly being approached by parents of gravely ill children about aid in dying, even though the act is prohibited for those under 18. Doctors reported having more and more exploratory discussions about assisted death at the behest of mature minors or from parents of young children with life-limiting medical conditions. In some cases, physicians received explicit requests for aid in dying, with more than half of those for babies under a year old.

Are you surprised? Have you ever been around a baby that arrived way too early and is in the hospital connected to all sorts of wires and can never leave the hospital or they will die without the machines? Have you ever seen a young child with malformations that affect many systems, from the eyes and brain to the heart, lungs, and digestive tract?What about older children with neurodegenerative conditions that cause progressive physical and cognitive loss? Some are accompanied by significant muscle spasticity and an inability to eat, control elimination or to swallow.

According to,  Dr. Dawn Davies, a pediatric palliative care physician, suffering can mean pain, but also a myriad of other symptoms, such as persistent shortness of breath, intractable nausea and vomiting, and debilitating weakness.

More conversations are needed! No individual should suffer! Palliative care if it is available can be amazing, but in reality there are not enough palliative care beds whether in-patient or out-patient. Not enough funding. Not enough resources.

I have been to lectures here in Quebec where this had been discussed and the doctors admit palliative care can be extremely beneficial to patients, but not enough beds or funding for the program. I imagine this would be the same story for much of Canada and world-wide.

So, how do we change this? The Canadian federal government give money to each province and then it is up to each province how they direct this money. What about the rest of the world?

I also came across this article written by a physician which focuses on death being certain, but how we die is not. The article points out the two options of: if allowed, dying with dignity (assisted dying) or living out one’s life destiny to the bitter end, no matter the suffering, using what precious time is left to better the world one leaves behind?

Mark McLaughlin, MD states he would choose option two, but does he really know? None of us know what we would choose, option 1 or 2 until we are in a situation where we have to make this choice. I can guess at what I would choose, but until I am there-I cannot state my final choice.

To me, it is about options and providing choices to patients and clients. They need to be properly informed and they need to be given the best treatment options or care which unfortunately at this moment is limited because….not enough palliative care beds or spaces. If pain management and management of symptoms related to a disease or illness are the issues-well this is where we start. Lobby for, write to, and advocate for more funding for palliative care and pain management clinics!

Thoughts?