Today's letters: On medically assisted death for children

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Ottawa Citizen 3 minute read May 19, 2022

Justin Ernst shown with his dog, Muffie. Justin died on Dec. 14, 2010 at age 13 from cancer. Patricia MacLellan / jpg

MAiD should be available to children, with safeguards in place

Re: Don’t expand medically assisted death to kids, May 11.

I was disappointed to read the opinion piece by Dr. Ramona Coelho and the Graydon Nicholas, as I support amending the law to allow kids the option for a medically assisted death. I support this amendment because children can experience devastating physical pain as they face inevitable death, even with the best palliative care.

I speak from experience, as I watched my 13-year old son suffer for five weeks before he died and was then free from the pain of bone cancer. This was after he spent a year in bed following surgery to remove his right pelvic bone, as well as two seven-month regimes of chemo and five weeks of radiation in the years before his death. In order to bear the pain of the cancer overtaking his body as he was dying, my son needed continuous pain killers via several sites in his body, as well as regular injections of other pain killers. Our physical contact in his last weeks of life were limited to occasional holding of hands and touching the top of his head, because it was too painful to hold or hug him.

When you have prayed for your child to die so that they can be released from their suffering, you recognize the unfairness in viewing all children as a homogenous unit to be protected from death.

Coelho and Nicholas bolster their argument against MAiD for children to seemingly protect youth from dying by suicide. These are totally different circumstances. I agree that the suicide rates among Indigenous youth are tragic and programs must be put in place to address this issue, but not by denying options to children suffering from cancer or other diseases and facing foreseeable death.

I believe that MAiD for children could be allowed with safeguards in place. If a child wishes to choose MAiD, then they should do so with the support of their parents or guardians. I believe there are many ways to help and show compassion to our children.

Patricia MacLellan, Ottawa

Federal Emergencies Act was properly used

Re: Views on Canada’s Emergencies Act show just how deeply divided we are, May 13.

Having studied the application of the federal Emergencies Act to the past winter’s blockades of border crossings and the trucker convoy’s occupation of downtown Ottawa, I see every indication that the act was employed in a way that it was meant to be used.

All sections of the act, including timeline restrictions, its revocation and the current required follow-up review were implemented in a limited, reasonable and specific manner.  To say that the invocation of the act was for the prime minister’s personal reasons, as some do, is absurd. Not only had the Ontario premier called on the federal government to act, but police had made it clear that its provisions were needed. No federal cabinet could but take the matter extremely seriously. I’m certain that a review of its use will bear this out.

Brian Curry, Ottawa


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