By Dave Andrusko
In June NRL News Today ran a story about what can only be described as a bizarre recommendation. A coalition of what are called children’s charities in Scotland actually recommended that the age of consent to ask for assisted suicide—16—was too high.
Submitted under the collective name “Together,” groups that are ostensibly advocates for children are attempting to piggyback on a proposed assisted suicide. The rationale of Save The Children, Barnardo’s, and Children 1st, among others?
As Peter Kearney wrote in today’s Scotsman.com., they asked (and I am not making this up) the health and sport committee, which is dealing with the assisted suicide proposals, to consider “international examples of comparative legislative.” Who might that be? Belgium, of course, which earlier this year legalized euthanasizing children.
When anticipating where this might head in Scotland, consider what Paul Russell wrote about Belgium, where euthanasia has careened completely out of control. The Belgium Parliament, he wrote,
“fell for the ‘stringent safeguard’ sleight of hand that has patently failed the Belgian people over the last 11 years. In a country where nearly a third of reported euthanasia cases show no record of request or consent and where only a little over half of all euthanasia acts are reported to the government Euthanasia Evaluation Committee (both required by law) and, where this committee has not referred one case for consideration by the authorities, even the semblance of safety and due regard for process is little more than a macabre joke on the Belgian people.”
“Together” indicated “support for the lower age limit of 16 to be removed from the existing bill and for children to be allowed to ask for assisted suicide whenever they are judged mature enough,” according to Kearney. “They actually say in their submission, that ‘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.’”
They added, “a child who is capable of forming his or her own views should be assured the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child,” including, obviously, their own self-destruction. “The views of a child must be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity.”
Some legal heavyweights have also weighed in, suggesting that if the age threshold is not eliminated now, there is no reason not to reconsider this in the future.
The Mason Institute, based at the University of Edinburgh and located within the School of Law, told Members of the Scottish Parliament, “While the age limit of 16 might be appropriate now, future reviews of the legislation should consider whether those under 16 who can exercise their autonomy should also be allowed to make use of the law.
“If it is accepted that the so-called ‘mature minor’ is able to both consent and refuse care under the Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991, then legal consistency would expect this to be extended to assisted suicide.”
Kearney quotes the anti-euthanasia group “Care Not Killing” which described the proposal as “monstrous” and “unthinkable.” But he also points out how just a few months after there was outrage and alarm when Belgium altered its euthanasia laws to include children, that example “shows that stepping along the path of killing patients is a voyage into an inevitable and heinous moral abyss.”
Near the end of his opinion piece, he comes full circle to observe, “Apart from the novel idea of describing the process of putting someone to death as ‘health care’ these are truly chilling words. These organisations established to defend and protect children appear to be doing the exact opposite.”
My only quarrel would be with Kearney’s use of the word “appear.” There is no “maybe” about what these groups are doing. Under the guise of “autonomy,” they are greasing the skids to ensure that any assisted suicide law passed in Scotland not “discriminate” against children.