Worrisome nomination for head of new national Center for the end of life

Following the creation of a National Center for Palliative Care and the End of Life by the January 5, 2016 decree, the press has announced that Dr. Véronique Fournier, whose ambiguous position on euthanasia is worrisome, has been named president of this organization.

Planned as the first measure in the 2015-2018 national plan for palliative care, this center merges two existing organizations: the Center of National Resources for Palliative Care and the National Observatory for the end of life created in 2008. The objective of the new Center: “accompany users as well as professionals in widening their knowledge of such complex subjects as palliative care and accompaniment of the end of life.”

Whereas in yesterdays’ press release the Health Minister announced that the nomination of the president for the center and a call for applications to constitute the strategic planning council would soon occur, the press revealed the name of Véronique Fournier, a cardiologist and director of the Ethics Center Clinic at Cochin Hospital in Paris.

For several years this doctor has maintained confusion between palliative care and euthanasia, for example by declaring, “In France, palliative care is opposed to euthanasia, whereas, euthanasia must become the ultimate palliative care”, or also by suggesting “a palliative euthanasia” or a euthanasia palliative solution.

Alliance VITA reacted to the announcement of this plan, which came very late in December 2015, whereas the development of palliative care had been frozen since 2012. Alliance VITA supports the position of the pool of associations Relieve suffering without killing, of which it is a member, to be vigilant on two levels: on the one hand regarding the proper application of the end of life law, which contains risks of developing euthanasia practices, and on the other hand, concerning the practical and adequate application of the plan proposed by the government. Alliance VITA shares the deep concerns of Relieve suffering without killing at the announcement of this nomination, which confirms the necessity of absolute vigilance.

Extract from the January 7, 2016 press release made by Relieve suffering without killing with Alliance VITA’s general delegate Tugdual Derville’s response.

For Tugdual Derville, one of the national spokesmen for Relieve suffering without killing, « the confusion between palliative care and euthanasia is the worst thing that could happen in this debate. And it’s the primary reason of our warning against the Claeys-Leonetti law where the concept of “profound and continuous sedation until death” are equivalent, in some cases, to a masked euthanasia or an assisted suicide. Some people are undermining the good job made by palliative care in order to divert palliative care givers from their mission: at the same time they pretend to be supporting them, while pretending at the same time that it is not a reasonable solution.

And, unfortunately we cannot help but note that Véronique Fournier has largely contributed to this confusion, by recommending what she calls “palliative euthanasia”. She also opens new high-risk debates, as when she implies that one should reopen the question of respecting life for elderly demented people in institutions. But, “dying poorly” situations still call for more solidarity, without ever allowing to legitimately cross the border of “forbid killing”, which constitutes the structure of a social pact specifically needed by those who are most vulnerable and those without voice”.

At the approach of the last parliamentary debates to finalize the law on the end of life, in the coming weeks, Relieve suffering without killing calls all the PMs to greater vigilance, so that this new law will not legitimate in France a euthanasia which does not tell its true name.


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