End-of-Life: Alliance VITA Auditioned by French National Assembly

Prior to the upcoming bill to legalize euthanasia in France, which will be debated on April 8th, Tugdual Derville, founder of Alliance VITA’s SOS End-of-Life service, and Dr. Xavier Mirabel, oncologist, and former President and Medical Advisor for Alliance VITA, were auditioned by the French National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee on March 24, 2021.

Bill No. 288 was submitted by Olivier Falorni (Socialist MP for La Rochelle-Ile-de-Ré) ostensibly to provide the right to a free choice at the end-of-life. According to the text, the bill would allow the use of “medical assistance to end one’s life” in the event of a “serious and incurable” condition, when the patient suffers “a physical or psychological pain deemed to be unbearable, and which cannot be alleviated”.

The Social Affairs Committee examined the bill on March 31st, and it will be debated during the “Liberties and Territories” group’s timeslot in the National Assembly on April 8th.

Several associations have been auditioned, including Alliance VITA, a member of the collective movement “Relieve Suffering Without Killing”. Dr. Mirabel and Tugdual Derville based their viewpoints on:

  • the experience of Alliance VITA’s SOS End of Life listening service,
  • the survey conducted by Alliance VITA volunteers on the elderly at the end of 2020,
  • the association’s campaigns: Speaking about Death and Messages for Life,
  • its’ guidebook to advance directives and designation of one’s medical power of attorney,
  • its’ recent survey conducted on behalf of “Relieve Suffering without Killing”,
  • and by the reports examining and deciphering the serious euthanasia violations in Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Canada.

They gave a point by point rebuttal contesting this pending legislation, considering it to be dangerous and prejudicial, as well as incongruent with medical ethics and the profound expectations of French citizens. They demonstrated that this bill is particularly unwelcome at a time when healthcare workers have rallied together to save lives. They underlined the importance of preventing all forms of suicide, the necessity to provide genuine palliative care, to refuse unreasonable therapeutic obstinacy as well as euthanasia.

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