Euthanasia Bill in France: A Poignant Appeal from Philippe Pozzo di Borgo

On April 8th while French MPs were examining a new bill for euthanasia, the spokespersons of the collective “Relieve Suffering without Killing” held a press conference deploring the indecency of decriminalizing such an act.

They argue that if putting a person to death is legalized, it would not only signify a radical shift in the doctor-patient relationship, but it would also undermine the trust between healthcare workers and patients. Trumendous progress has already been made to accompany those who are suffering and more progress should be encouraged, instead of proclaiming a volte face.

The popular French film, “Untouchable” is based on the true-life story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, a quadriplegic aristocrat, who made a solemn appeal at the press conference: “Can’t you see the mounting pressure – even the coercion – in a society which designates some of its’ citizens for death : those individuals who are most frequently shunned, those who suffer extreme pain, those who are very isolated, those who are extremely disfigured, those who are particularly affected by others’ pity, – and as some are already contending – those who cost the most? »

Founder of Alliance VITA’s End-of-Life service, and acting as a spokesperson for the collective “Relieve Suffering without Killing” Tugdual Derville declared:

This is a very bad message that the Government sends to the French who are already worn-out by the COVID crisis, especially when the plan for developing palliative care has finally been announced but not yet been implemented, and the law for Advanced Age and Autonomy has yet again been postponed. Using Belgium’s euthanasia law as a reference for the new bill is also very awkward, since the Belgian law continues to drift from so-called “free choices” to uncontrollable practices that exert pressure on the vulnerable, for example on depressed people, who are by no means at the end of their life. Belgium euthanasia laws illustrate that opening Pandora’s box for “exceptional cases”, ends up gradually changing the country’s mindset so that more and more vulnerable people now regard the use of euthanasia as a duty.”

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