by Care Alliance, 12 July 2017
#1 Why 18 years of age?
- Maryan Street, President of VES, is on record as stating that “Application for children with terminal illness was a bridge too far in my view at this time. That might be something that may happen in the future, but not now.” The only basis for her holding this view is to make a law change more palatable to the public, because it cannot be defended ethically, legally or medically.
- Euthanasia became legal in the Netherlands in 2002. It allows euthanasia for those aged at least 12 years of age. Children aged from 12 – 15 years require parental consent. More recently, some Dutch doctors are urging lawmakers to extend the euthanasia law to include children aged 1 to 12.
- Belgium, which introduced euthanasia for those at least 18 years of age in 2002, voted to extend the practice to children in 2014.
- For any society “which tolerates euthanasia in certain defined circumstances already, to deny children with capacity the same opportunities to end their suffering humanely, to the same extent as their older contemporaries, must surely be as unjust as it is discriminatory.” Jo Samanta. See Diversity & Equality in Health and Care (2015)
Conclusion: It is discriminatory to limit access to a particular group on the basis of age. The age limit of 18 years is arbitrary. The choice of 18 years as a limit is for political reasons only and not for ethical, legal or medical reasons.