No, Canada is not expanding medical assistance in dying for infants

By: Umme Kulsum
December 12 2023

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No, Canada is not expanding medical assistance in dying for infants

Screenshots of claims stating that Canada expanded its assisted suicide laws to allow for the killing of infants. (Source: Natural News/X/ Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

Health Canada says that the country does not have a law or plans allowing physician-assisted death for infants.

Claim ID f9efb2d8

What's the claim?

A headline circulating on social media falsely claims that Canada is expanding its medical assistance in dying (MAID) legislation to include infants. The headline is from an article from Natural News, a website known for spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation, dated November 14, 2023. One Instagram user posted the screenshot (archived here) with the caption, "Guys we need to stop this satanism ,it is spreading too fast (sic)." Users replying in the comments section appear to accept the headline's credibility.

Another similar post shared on X (archived here) was captioned, "In Canada, MAID (assisted suicide) is poised to become more profitable than the health industry." The post has garnered over 229,000 views and over 300 reposts at the time of writing this story.

Screenshot of claims made online (Source: X/Natural News/Modified by Logically Facts)

Although assisted death is legal in Canada, the statement alleging the expansion of the age criteria to include infants is false. 

The Natural News article

According to PolitiFact, Natural News has a track record of spreading false information, particularly related to health topics.

The Natural News article (archived here) highlights statements by Louis Roy, a physician associated with the Quebec College of Physicians, who proposed the idea that infants under a year old could access medically assisted deaths if their survival prospects are grim due to severe health problems in the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying in October 2022. However, this was merely a suggestion and did not materialize into law. 

According to an article by CBC, Roy faced criticism from advocacy groups for proposing the legalization of euthanasia for severely ill newborns.

What is MAID?

In June 2016, the Parliament of Canada passed federal legislation that allows assisted death, known as Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). The law permits eligible individuals to receive assistance from a medical practitioner in ending their lives under specific conditions and safeguards. 

According to the Canadian government, to choose assisted death, one must be "18 years of age or older and have decision-making capacity,"  have a "grievous and irremediable medical condition," "make a voluntary request that is not the result of external pressure," and provide their "informed consent to receive MAID." This means that the individual should possess the capability to make healthcare decisions for themselves. The legislation does not extend this program to minors or infants.

What has the Canadian government said?

Health Canada confirmed to Logically Facts via mail, "The Government of Canada has no plans to alter the minimum age requirement to access MAID," adding, "One of the eligibility criteria is that persons are at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions with respect to their health."

Additionally, we could not find any mainstream media reports indicating that the Canadian government is expanding its assisted death law for infants. Moreover, there is no information on this matter available on Health Canada's official website. 

According to a Government of Canada report, in April 2021, a Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying was formed by Parliament to assess Canada's MAID law and its implementation, which also included reviewing questions related to the eligibility of mature minors. Although Canada considered discussing the MAIDS program for mature minors, it was never implemented. 

A report submitted in February 2023 by the committee suggested undertaking "consultations with minors on the topic of MAID, including minors with terminal illnesses, minors with disabilities, minors in the child welfare system and Indigenous minors, within five years of the tabling of this report." It also recommended that the Government of Canada "provide funding through Health Canada and other relevant departments for research into the views and experiences of minors with respect to MAID."

The verdict

Canada's present law on medical assistance in dying requires that applicants must be 18 years of age or older. There has been no change to the law, and the Canadian government has stated that is not planning to expand its eligibility requirement to include infants. Therefore, we have marked this claim false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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