End of life: Macron wants a bill for "a French model"

Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday that he expected the government to draft a bill on the end of life "by the end of the summer", receiving the conclusions of the Citizens' Convention which called for "active help to die" but under conditions

End of life: Macron wants a bill for "a French model"

Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday that he expected the government to draft a bill on the end of life "by the end of the summer", receiving the conclusions of the Citizens' Convention which called for "active help to die" but under conditions.

Wishing to set up a "French model of the end of life", he sent the government and parliamentarians the task of defining its content, but by setting limits.

Among them, the need to "guarantee the expression of the free and enlightened will", of the "reiteration of the choice", "the incurability of refractory, psychic and physical suffering, even the commitment of the vital prognosis".

"You rightly insist that active assistance in dying should never be carried out for a social reason, to respond to the isolation which sometimes can make a patient feel guilty who knows he is condemned to term", added Mr. Macron, who also closed the door to any assistance in dying for minors.

"These few red lines seem to me to usefully frame the hypothesis of a French model of the end of life and constitute our starting point", he decided.

Now instructs the government, deputies and senators, to carry out in a "transpartisan" way a "work of co-construction, on the basis of this solid reference which is that of the Citizens' Convention and in connection with all the stakeholders".

More concrete, he announced the "necessary investments" to feed a "ten-year plan" on palliative care, denounced as insufficient by the Convention. Mr. Macron considered that the State had "an obligation of result" to ensure "effective access to end-of-life support care".

It was "an absolute priority", rejoices with AFP Claire Fourcade, president of the French Society for support and palliative care.

Others "remain unsatisfied", like Jean-Luc Romero, honorary president of the Association for the right to die with dignity. "There is no concrete measure. It's vague once again," he regretted.

The prospect of the bill, on the other hand, worries Ludovine de la Rochère, president of the family union (ex Manif pour tous): "suicide is always a tragedy, whatever the modalities, very heavy to bear for families".

Mr. Macron recalled having himself "a personal opinion which can evolve", but also as head of state "a responsibility of harmony and a desire for appeasement".

The Head of State had received in the morning the 184 members of the Convention, citizens drawn by lot who participated for three months in intense debates on the subject.

He paid tribute to them and announced other Citizens' Conventions to come.

In a report validated on Sunday, the Convention on the end of life answered "yes" to three quarters to an "active aid to die", concretely assisted suicide or euthanasia, by however matching its positions with important restrictions.

Current legislation, set by the Claeys-Leonetti law of 2016, allows caregivers to irreversibly sedate patients near death, whose suffering is intolerable.

But it does not go so far as to authorize assisted suicide (the patient administers the lethal product himself) or euthanasia (a caregiver injects it).

The executive, which had been criticized for having largely neglected the conclusions of a previous Convention on the climate, had already warned that it would not resume as such those on the end of life.

An advisory body, the Ethics Committee (CCNE), already paved the way in September for an evolution by deeming it possible - under many conditions - to legalize this active assistance in dying.

According to the Convention, such an act requires that the patient has previously benefited from in-depth support and that he has been able to express his wishes at any time.

If the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide brings agreement between the left and part of the center, it arouses strong reluctance on the right.

The risk is also to reactivate a source of tension in society, already shaken by the pension crisis.

In a poll published Sunday by the JDD, a majority of French people (70%) say they are in favor of active assistance in dying. But only 36% would consider resorting to euthanasia if they were suffering from a painful and incurable disease.

To feed its thinking, France is also looking at the situation in European countries, where legislation authorizes euthanasia and/or assisted suicide. Belgium is, along with the Netherlands, one of the first two European countries to have authorised, 20 years ago, euthanasia.

In Spain, a law legalizing assisted death, which entered into force in June 2021, allows euthanasia and medically assisted suicide, while in Switzerland there are different forms of assisted death.

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04/03/2023 16:21:41 -         Paris (AFP) -         © 2023 AFP