TORONTO, Aug 13 ( – Christine Harrison, director of bioethics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and a member of the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics,  wrote in today’s Globe and Mail in support of the Dutch proposal to allow euthanasia for children as young as twelve years of age.

In a classic example of double speak Harrison claims at the end of the article that whe is not advocating the legalization of euthanasia but merely arguing that if it is available to adults it should also be available to children.  If adults have the right to euthanasia, “it is a simple matter of justice” that children “should have the same rights and be treated equally,” says Harrison. Harrison notes the requirements of the Dutch proposal for legal euthanasia include competency and unbearable suffering and voluntary request on the part of euthanasia “candidates”.

She asserts that some children even at 12 can be competent and that “even younger children may have a good understanding of the significance of permanence of death.” Regarding suffering, Harrison notes that “there is no doubt that children are capable of experiencing unbearable suffering.” On the voluntary question, Harrison concedes that this is problematic.  However she says that, “rather than deny children this ‘service,’ the Dutch legislation has included a special provision for them … it says that, in all but exceptional cases, the child’s parents must give their consent.”

To contact the Hospital with your concerns about Harrison:
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M5G 1X8 Administration Office
phone (416) 813-6862
President’s Office phone (416) 813-5711