Wow, so I just read that the Netherlands is set to approve euthanasia for children under twelve years old. Again, just wow on so many levels. The first being that this is perhaps some of the most liberal thinking in the world on euthanasia next to that of Belgium, which became the first country to allow voluntary child euthanasia in 2014. Since then, they have reported two deaths of children in this age range.
Wow, because for a parent to have to consider never mind be willing to let their child go this way is perhaps the ultimate sacrifice any parent may ever have to make. And unless you’re in that situation, it’s hard to say what anyone would be prepared to do.
I came across this article in a Canadian newspaper recently where a New York supreme court judge gave permission for the parents of a deceased son without his prior consent to use his sperm to produce a male heir. Cultural differences aside (they are from a culture where male heirs are important), they stated they were desperate for a part of their son to live on, which is universal to all grieving parents.
As a bereaved parent myself, the story left me wondering whether this case could set a precedent giving every parent the right to produce a grandchild from their deceased child without consent, all because we want a part of them to live on. This raises all sorts of questions about the ethics and ramifications of this extended arm of assisted-baby making techniques; not only for bioethicists, but our culture at large. It also left me wondering whether I would have done it if I could when my child died in 2005. The answer?
If you’re a Canadian, you likely heard about the recent deaths of seven children from the same family in a house fire in Nova Scotia. For those unaware of the story, the father is in a coma from his injuries. All of the children in the family died. The mom was the only one physically unharmed. While her mental and emotional state is anyone’s guess, as a bereaved mom myself, I can only imagine she must be experiencing pain and trauma to such a degree, it is beyond anyone’s comprehension, except for perhaps those who have experienced something similar.
As a background, the family had recently immigrated from Syria and were settling into their new life in Canada. Then, this tragedy. Which has left everyone speechless and shaking their heads. The provincial and federal governments are to be applauded for taking swift action to bring this grieving mom’s extended family to Canada to support her. Which got me thinking how important their actions were in demonstrating how critical family and cultural influences are to the grieving and healing process.
Right now, there is concern by parents in the UK that social media is responsible for the recent suicides of dozens of young teens in that country . Discussion is ramping up amongst lawmakers about how best to legislate social media companies to remove and ban all content that may promote self-harm. Legislators are as concerned as parents. There is hope they can work with social media companies to find a solution to this endemic problem that still respects freedom of the internet, but where sufficient controls can be put in place to effectively guard it.
Drawing on my former experience working in privacy, I’m not sure if this is wishful thinking on the part of lawmakers or not, but as a mom whose daughter died by suicide in 2005 after viewing content on a self-harm site that offered methods on how to complete suicide, I can relate to the fears parents face today, where almost anything can be readily accessed online. I can also appreciate the difficulty experts may be facing establishing law to ban this content, yet still protect the rights of individuals to access information.
Recently, I came across this news article where a mother’s efforts to meet the recipient of her late son’s heart (he was 23 when he died) is being prevented through provincial law. As someone who did not have the choice to donate my child’s heart (or any other organs) when she died, and therefore not in the same position, I can only speculate on the reasons for this mom’s, or any other parent’s desire for that matter, to want to physically connect with a recipient, whose only reason for continued life is the generous gift of their child’s organ(s).