Paediatricians are fielding more and more questions from parents about options for medically assisted deaths for their children. In the past year, thirty-five of the doctors participating in the survey said they had inquiries from sixty under-eighteen patients about ending their lives and nine of the respondents reported direct requests for assisted deaths from seventeen underage patients.

Startling number of requests from minors

There has been an alarming increase in the number of minors seeking information about ending their lives. A survey by the Canadian Pediatric Society asked 2,600 paediatricians to take part in a study about the inquiries they receive from parents and children about assisted death.

The survey had a 40 percent response rate. There were 118 paediatricians who reported exploratory talks on the subject with the parents of children who were ill that involved over 400 children. Forty-five members say they had direct requests from parents that involved 91 children, and of these inquiries, half were for kids under the age of one year. Sixty minor patients talked to their doctors about the subject and explicit requests came from seventeen kids.

Support from paediatricians

In another survey of approximately 2,000 members of the Canadian Pediatric Society, the results show that there is significant support for assisted death. With a 29 percent response rate, the survey reveals that 46 percent of doctors responding were in support of assisted death legislation that would include minors.

They would accept such legislation as it applies to mature children under eighteen who understood what their decision would entail. On the other hand, thirty-three percent of the respondents claim they would not consider this option for a minor.

The state of assisted death for children

The doctor-assisted dying legislation in Canada currently excludes children under eighteen, even though a parliamentary committee had recommended the inclusion of minors.

The only country that gives children, regardless of age, the right to choose euthanasia with parental consent is Belgium. In 2016 a terminally ill 17-year-old minor was the first to die with the help of doctors. The Netherlands also have legislation for children but they must be twelve years or older to be considered for doctor-assisted death.

Euthanasia for any age group is illegal in England and is punishable by a prison term. Along with the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Columbia permit assisted dying with varying caveats. A few states in the USA, including California and Washington, also allow it.