At the opening of the work of the special committee of the National Assembly, Monday April 22, on the “end of life” bill, the Minister of Health, Catherine Vautrin, called on deputies to have a parliamentary debate which takes place in “a spirit of humanity, listening and respect”.

After having mentioned “a certain impatience in our society to have” these discussions, the Minister of Health highlighted the desire, with this text, to “respond to the unbearable suffering of a few people to whom the law in force does not provide no sufficient answers” ​​but also the “search for balance”.

At the heart of the questions is the fact of offering certain patients the means of committing suicide and, when they are incapable of carrying out the fatal gesture, of doing it for them. This “assisted death” will be reserved for adult patients, born in France or residing in the country for a long time, and able to clearly express their wishes. The text explicitly excludes psychiatric illnesses. It will also be necessary to experience intolerable and impossible to treat suffering, physical or psychological. Finally, the vital prognosis must be undertaken in the short or medium term.

“I have heard fears to which I hope we can respond point by point, a strong demand for clarity and precision, an expectation of vigilance with regard to the sensitivity of the subject,” assured Ms. Vautrin. After insisting on the palliative care development plan, with an additional 1.1 billion euros by 2034 and various measures, Catherine Vautrin once again sought to reassure about the possibility of assistance in dying. The bill specifies in particular that “the doctor who agrees to examine this request must offer palliative care if the sick person does not already benefit from it.” The person has a reflection period of “two days minimum”, “with no maximum delay”, to confirm their wish for “assisted death”.

It is “not a copy and paste of foreign legislation, nor a euthanasia model (…), nor an authorization to commit suicide”, “not a new right nor a new freedom but a possible path”, with “strict conditions”, which she recalled, as “protective guarantees for the people concerned and the caregivers”, she insisted. And “no one will impose assisted dying on anyone,” assured the minister, specifying that the Council of State had noted “the clarity and precision of these conditions, which are also close to those of certain countries Europeans”.

Debate in the hemicycle from May 27

The hearing of Ms. Vautrin on Monday by the 71 members of the special commission set up to examine this bill kicks off their work which will then lead them to hear representatives of the medical profession on Tuesday, and services on Wednesday , associations on Thursday, or even psychologists, philosophers, sociologists, former ministers and parliamentarians like Alain Claeys and Jean Leonetti, authors of the last major law on the end of life. Then, from May 13, the committee will begin to study the 21 articles of the text and the amendments tabled, before the text is examined in the hemicycle from May 27.

The president of the special commission, Agnès Firmin Le Bodo (Horizons), who worked a lot for the project during her time in government, judged that it will “necessarily be a very good sequence, and [that] we will have debates at the height of the stakes”, she hopes while this legislature has so far been marked by often very tense debates.

Hoping for a debate marked by “humility, seriousness and respect for all convictions”, the general rapporteur Olivier Falorni (MoDem) wanted “a major parliamentary journey which takes all the necessary time”, but “no inconsiderate way” because “many French people are waiting for this law, especially many sick people”. “The deputies are aware that it will be closely watched and closely followed. You are not going to throw yourself into an arena like for a PSG-OM,” metaphorized upstream the “rebellious” MP Caroline Fiat, one of the four thematic co-rapporteurs of the law. “We can disagree but we have to be careful with the words we say,” she told the deputies present in this committee.