An Op-Ed article signed by 156 French MP’s entitled: “It is appropriate to give the patients at the end of their life free disposition of their bodies” was published on February 28th in “Le Monde”. The majority of those signing are from President Macron’s party (“LREM”: Republic on the Move) and they urge to legalize “active help in dying”.
Jean-Louis Touraine, MP, author of a recent bill on euthanasia, and head of a study group on the end-of-life in the National Assembly initiated this Op-Ed article. Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls is also among the signatories.
The article exhorts “to end the hypocrisy that prevents from helping those who wish to be helped and inflicts a painful agony to everyone. It is advisable to give patients at the end of their life free disposition of their bodies and of their destiny “. They refer to a recent IFOP survey stating that “a high number of French people seek relief” by going abroad to countries that have already legislated on the subject (Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland …). They declare that euthanasia is already being practiced illegally in France.
The signatories assert, that “the current palliative care options are not satisfactory for all individual situations and patients’ suffering at the end-of-life”. They insist that no “significant innovations” have been introduced in the Claeys-Leonetti law dated February 2, 2016. It should be noted that this law is barely starting to be known, understood and implemented, since the application decrees are dated from August 2017. Several official initiatives are ongoing or planned in the short term future, to evaluate whether taking charge of the end-of-life situation is improving in France *.
Alliance VITA considers that this ideological offensive is attempting to occult the genuine end-of-life issues at hand. They denounce this insistence to force through still another end-of-life legislation, when the priority is to assess how the new Claeys-Leonetti law is being applied in real-case scenarios. Whether people are in hospitals, nursing homes or at home, the main priority is to improve palliative care, especially pain management, and inter-generation solidarity. Indeed, in the few foreign countries which have legalized euthanasia, the serious “ethical slippage” observed is a warning for acting with utmost caution. (Refer to our analysis on Belgium and the Netherlands, for example).
* The government launched an investigation via the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs (IGAS : Inspection Générale des Affaires Sociales); The Parliament is planning a study group and hearings in the coming weeks; the EESC also took up the subject; and medical assessments on “deep and continuous sedation until death” are in progress via the National Center for Palliative and End-of-Life Care and the French Society for Accompaniment and Palliative Care (SFAP : Société Française d’Accompagnement et de Soins Palliatifs)