Alliance VITA denounces the disturbing and blatant contradictions in the end-of-life recommendation published today by the “CCNE” (French National Consultative Ethics Committee).
The authors rightly assert that every individual has inalienable dignity, and they claim they want to reconcile solidarity with the most vulnerable, all the while respecting individual autonomy. But it is erroneous to assert that “to respond to the liberty of self-determination, there is an ethical way to enact ‘active assistance in dying’ ” (meaning assisted suicide and euthanasia). If some French deplore the fact that various individuals have died a horrible death, it has mostly been caused by the lack of pain-relieving care and assistance, and generally because of lack of access to palliative care. Furthermore, the rare requests for euthanasia are often due to underlying social pressure, the fear of becoming a burden or financial worries.
Tugdual Derville, Alliance VITA’s spokesperson declares:
“We can only wonder what motivation and pressure has led the authors to attempt this sleight of hand, to reconcile the irreconcilable. Palliative care is the antithesis of assisted suicide and euthanasia; the endorsement of one cannot be used to justify giving credit to the other. We believe that no matter how ambiguous the vocabulary is, lifting the ban on killing is not medically ethical, nor indeed is it ethical in any way at all. It is undeniable that the basis of trust between patients and caregivers is founded on the prohibition to kill, just as for life in society; no one should be excluded from suicide prevention. Besides, the CCNE subtly lists the inherent risks in this changeover. How can we fail to see that if a person’s autonomy is conceived as sacred, it can only lead to rejection and self-exclusion for those who are the most vulnerable? »
Consensus is still far off, even for the CCNE, where 8 members have publicly expressed their strong reservations in regard to this published recommendation.
In the upcoming days Alliance VITA will take the necessary steps to protect the French from the violence and discrimination of suicide and euthanasia. We firmly reject both unreasonable therapeutic obstinacy and euthanasia. And we will work to preserve the French perspective, one that is worthy of ethics and medicine: making palliative care accessible for everyone, while continuing to fight against the “social death” of those who are sick, dependent and/or alone.