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Euthanasia can't be restricted to adults: in Belgium there is no age limit to request euthanasia; and in the Netherlands newborns may be euthanised

Former Attorney General Chris Finlayson stated that David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill could be seen to be in breach of the New Zealand Bill of Right Act because it limits euthanasia and assisted suicide to those over the age of 18. A court could hold that it was discriminatory on the basis of age and request that Parliament remove any age requirements.

Extending euthanasia laws to minors is a common practice internationally. When Belgium passed its euthanasia law in 2002, it limited euthanasia to adults. But since 2014, euthanasia is available to children. Since 2014, three children have been euthanised: a 17-year-old with muscular dystrophy, an 11-year-old with cystic fibrosis, and a 9-year-old with a brain tumour.

In the Netherlands, children as young as 12 can request euthanasia with parental consent and as young as 16 without parental consent. Since 2005 the Groningen Protocol allows newborns to be euthanised as well.

In March this year Colombia legalised euthanasia for terminally ill children as young as six years old.

President of the New Zealand End of Life Choice Society and former MP Maryan Street has indicated that the euthanasia of children could be in New Zealand’s future. When her own End of Life Choice Bill was in the parliamentary ballot in 2013, Street reflected, “Application for children with terminal illness was a bridge too far in my view at this time. That might be something that may happen in the future, but not now.”

Sources: C Finlayson, Report of the Attorney General under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 on the End of Life Choice Bill (2017); E Verhagen and P J J Sauer, “The Groningen Protocol – Euthanasia in severely ill newborns,” in New England Journal of Medicine (2005) 352: 959-962; H Fleming, “Euthanasia bill close to MP’s heart,” in Stuff (12 August 2013).

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