Author: Dov Kagan, JD
In 2016, Parliament legalized medical assistance in dying (MAID) under certain limited circumstances. However, the criminal code provisions relating to MAID remain quite restrictive. A minor cannot ever legally access MAID regardless of their individual maturity or personal circumstances. In this brief article, I review the constitutionality of this restriction in light of the Supreme Court’s prior decision in AC v Manitoba (Director of Child and Family Services). In that case, the Court recognized the importance of an individualized approach when assessing the capacity of minors to refuse life-saving medical treatment. I argue that the Court’s approach in AC is in significant tension with the categorical restriction on MAID for even the most mature minors. I conclude by briefly reviewing some countervailing considerations, which remain to be addressed by Parliament and the courts going forward.
Keywords: medical assistance in dying, mature minors, capacity, parliament