MSPs should consider allowing assisted suicide for children, a group of children’s charities has suggested.
The submission to the Holyrood committee looking into the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill said that MSPs should note that “terminal illnesses do not discriminate based on the age of a person and accordingly, neither should health care”.
Yet the response also insisted that the alliance of charities, called ‘Together’, takes “no position on assisted suicide, nor on whether children should have a right to assisted suicide”.
Green MSP Patrick Harvie is now pursuing the Bill, which would allow people with a terminal illness or progressive life-shortening condition to be helped to commit suicide – but only if they are aged over 16.
Together works to ensure the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is implemented in Scotland and has argued that the change to Belgian law earlier this year allowing child euthanasia “is in line” with the UNCRC.
In its written submission it said the change “requires that maturity, rather than age, is given consideration when evaluating if a terminally ill patient has the capacity to make decisions in relation to this law”.
Together added: “In the consideration of the age threshold of 16 proposed in the Bill, the Health and Sports Committee should note that terminal illnesses do not discriminate based on the age of a person and accordingly, neither should health care.”
Together recommends that the committee “reflects on international examples of comparable legislation, such as the recent amendment to Belgium’s 2002 euthanasia law”.
The response made clear that the views expressed in it “do not necessarily reflect the specific views of each member organisation”. Members of Together include Save the Children and Barnardo’s.
Care Not Killing, a pro-life group which opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide, said that extending the Bill to children should be “unthinkable”.
A spokesman said: “The people of Scotland should be alarmed and ashamed of what is being said and proposed.”
“Right-minded people will be baffled that such an idea can be advanced, not least from one organisation purporting to represent the interests of children.”
“If assisted suicide proposals lead so quickly to calls for children to be considered for assisted suicide, then who could be fully safe under such a regime?” he added.