19-04-2016

National Center for End of Life: presidency appointment contested


Dr. Véronique Fournier has just officially been appointed to the presidency of the new National Center for Palliative Care and End of Life, by a decree from the Health Minister, dated April 7, 2016 and published in the Official Journal on April 15.

This organization, provided for by the 2015-2018 National Plan for Palliative Care, merged with the National Observatory for the End of Life and the National Resource Center for Palliative Care.

The official announcement of this nomination, via a press release last January, raised several worries in the medical world specialized in the end of life, notably with the Scientific Council of SFAP, which gave its opinion last January 15th: “It seems difficult to recognize that Dr. Veronique Fournier has specific competences for palliative care matters. She has never worked in the field of palliative care, does not have the necessary clinical experience (…). From a university viewpoint, she has never published articles on palliative care »(…). She now claims to be in favor of euthanasia in particular circumstances. She is extremely critical towards the Leonetti law (…). Dr. Véronique Fournier’s possible appointment is completely contrary to the President of the Republic’s wishes for a spirit of consensus on these sensitive issues, and contrary to the parliament’s wishes to actively promote palliative care to reduce the inequality of access, and in conflict with ethical positions in the palliative care world.”

In fact, Véronique Fournier has been generating confusion for several years between palliative care and euthanasia, by declaring for example: “In France, palliative care is opposed to euthanasia, yet, euthanasia should become the ultimate palliative care”, or again by naming her wish for “palliative euthanasia” or an “act of euthanasia palliative.”

Following Dr. Fournier’s appointment which is finally official, even though obviously done through the back door, Alliance VITA joins the Collective Association Relieve Pain without Killing to launch an alert today. The latter had already reacted strongly to the announcement of the proposed appointment, which only reinforces concerns about the government’s genuine intentions concerning future practices of “deep and continuous sedation until death” introduced by the new end of life law dated February 2, 2016.

Extracts from the April 19, 2016 press release Soulager mais pas tuer (Relieve Pain Without Killing):

Tugdual Derville, one of the national spokesmen for Relieve Suffering Without Killing, says “this nomination strongly confirms our alert against the ambiguities in the new End of Life Law. Véronique Fournier is in favor of « palliative euthanasia », a wording which leads to serious confusion. Those who thought they ought to support the notion of profound and continuous sedation until death have been irresponsible and credulous. It is high time to clarify the ethics of palliative care as well as for the numerous medical specialties, which are more specifically implicated in the end of life. In fact, with the theories supported by Dr Fournier, it is a hidden form of euthanasia, without public awareness, nor right for objection of conscience from the caregivers, which could insidiously replace genuine palliative care and accompaniment for the end of life, respectful of the individual to be comforted without ever killing.”

The Vigilance Committees, which Soulager mais pas tuer (Relieve Suffering Without Killing), has in place in every region throughout France, are legitimate in their mission: citizens and health care professionals must be watchful to protect vulnerable individuals from all drifts toward euthanasia, while promoting good practices in matters of palliative care, and accompaniment for patients at the end of life.