End of life: utmost vigilance on the application of the law


For Alliance VITA, the law on the end of life which has just been voted by Parliament yesterday requires now utmost vigilance by MP’s, health professionals, and healthcare users, to avoid drifting towards euthanasia.

The new law marks the end of a process initiated with proposition 21 by then presidential candidate François Hollande, in favor of “medical assistance to end one’s life with dignity”, a particularly vague expression which has solicited hopes and concerns for nearly 4 years.

Yesterday’s debates, at the National Assembly as well as in the Senate, showed once more that the two main measures – profound and continuous sedation until death, and the mandatory advanced directives, which means that they are to be imposed on the doctor – receive a different interpretation according to each individual’s deep intention. These ambiguities might lead to contradictory medical practices, which will either respect the most vulnerable patients (individuals at the end of life, severely disabled or unconscious) or bring euthanasia or disguised assisted suicides. This is why Alliance VITA has reiterated its’ opposition to these new provisions, and is involved in the collective movement Relieve suffering without killing.

The challenge for the following months is clearly laid out. It is essential that decrees on implementation of this law should fully respect the assurance given throughout the debate by the promoters of the law: that is, that the idea is not to bypass the prohibition of willful killing, which must remain the basis of confidence between care-givers and patients. Alliance VITA, within the collective movement Relieve suffering without killing, will be particularly vigilant to this aspect. Alliance VITA will take an active part in the national and regional vigilance committees which are currently created to counteract the risk of euthanasia by stealth.

In addition to the rapid implementation of the development plan for palliative care announced last month, medical practices must continue to contribute to better relieving pain and to better accompanying individuals at the end of life. This is the objective shared by the large majority of health professionals and patients, when they are well-taken care of: we must be tenacious so the new law proves to be a “bulwark law” against all forms of direct or indirect euthanasia, and not a “stepping stone law” towards an explicit law for euthanasia or assisted suicide.

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