Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, November 11, 2022

Canada expanding assisted suicide law to include the mentally ill, possibly enable 'mature minors'

Medical assistance in dying (MAID) has been available in Canada since 2016. In March 2023, it is set to expand after Bill C-7 received Royal Assent in 2021. Individuals seeking MAID will now have the opportunity to apply citing mental disorder as the sole basis. Previously, MAID eligibility was only open to those with “grievous and irremediable medical condition.” 

A controversial aspect of the expansion under this bill allows “mature minors” to seek this treatment without the consent of their parents. In Canada, the mature minor doctrine allows children who are sufficiently mature to make their own treatment decisions in some jurisdictions. Mature minors are between the ages of 12 and 16. Factors considered are age, maturity, intellect, life experience and the mental state of the minor when determining if they are capable of making their own medical decisions. 

In the United States, Oregon was the first state to approve medically assisted suicide in 1997. Since then, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington state and Washington D.C. have followed suit. In the United States, a patient seeking this treatment must be at least eighteen years of age.

For more information see Ashley Carnahan “Canada expanding assisted suicide law to include the mentally ill, possibly enable ‘mature minors’”, Fox News, October 27, 2022 and “Medical assistance in dying”, Government of Canada and "Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Children's Participatory Rights in Canada", Department of Justice, Government of Canada.


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