A mere two days after the closure of the Citizens’ Convention and the day following the announcement by Emmanuel Macron of a Bill on the end of life by the end of the summer, the Soulager mais pas tuer (Relief without killing) collective launched a major nation-wide campaign under the title ‘I am alive, therefore I am’. On 4th April, 40 towns thus became host to demonstrations in defence of a society which protects the most vulnerable of its members against the threat of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Through its display of posters and distribution of leaflets inviting the population to look beyond the apparent vulnerabilities, the campaign consisted in human chains in 40 towns all over France to state that nobody should have to show their capabilities, their dignity or their usefulness to have a right to live. People from all walks of life, either healthy or weakened by old age, sickness or handicap held hands around our slogan ‘I am alive and therefore I am’ to the sound of a slam saying:
I am alive therefore I am, I have my own existence
I am unique, I am strong, I have strength and resilience
I am alive, I am proud, I have my own identity
I breathe therefore I am alive, I am alive therefore I am!
All together they personified the importance of each link in the chain to ensure the resilience of solidarity for all society. Everyone has a full place to play at the heart of society. The presence of the more vulnerable within it is the very sign of its humanity.
At the Trocadero in Paris, Claire Boucher, a member of “100% vivants” (100% alive), declared: “We are here to announce loud and clear, that nobody is unworthy to live. Nobody is ever “too many”. Nobody should ever feel too costly. Nobody should ever be seen as pointless. It is not because three quarters of a panel of 184 citizens, the vast majority of whom in good health, consider that assisted suicide or euthanasia may be the best solution, that we should give in, quite the opposite!“
In Pau, Catherine Becquet, a retired doctor and local spokeswoman for the collective declared:
“We support the development of palliative care, as well as the improvement of the accompaniment of people for their end of life. But we are against any action intended to cause death. Since that raises the question of the very dignity of the person. We also fear that it will also be an open door for all kinds of abuse.”
“Soulager mais pas tuer” is a joint association collective created in 2014 to alert the French public on the risk of toppling towards euthanasia and assisted suicide. It is sponsored by Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, whose life inspired the film Intouchables. Alliance VITA is one of the partners alongside “100% vivants” which supports the handicapped, “Soigner dans la dignité”, (caring with dignity) an association of young carers, “Convergence soignants –soignés pour une médecine à visage humain” (convergence of carers and patients for humanised medicine) and “Institut Européen de bioéthique” (European Institute of Bioethics).
In the face of the rising pressures to lift the prohibition of killing, “Soulager mais pas tuer” is appealing for:
- The generalisation of access to palliative care and pain relief everywhere in France.
- Reasserting firm opposition to any form of assisted suicide or euthanasia and the stigmatisation of some diseases or handicaps.
Establishing the fight against social death of the handicapped and our elders as a major national cause involving all generations.