CESE: Recommendations at the Antipodes of Solidarity


On Tuesday 9th May, the CESE (Economic Social and Environmental Council) adopted the advice “End of life: Change the law?”, in favour of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

At the very antipodes of the claimed solidarity, the recommendations contained in the advice, by lifting the prohibition on killing, directly threatens the social link and the life of the most vulnerable people.

In parallel with the Citizens’ Convention on the end of life which released its conclusions on 2nd April, a temporary commission on the end of life was established within the CESE, consisting of consultants appointed by its 19 constituent groups.

Following the work undertaken since November, the commission issued its “End of life: Change the law?” advice to the CESE convened in a plenary session on Tuesday 9th May. The advice was adopted by 98 votes for, 6 votes against, and 12 abstentions, five years after the adoption in April 2018 of an advice in favour of “Deep and explicitly lethal sedation”.

This new advice by the CESE is convergent with the conclusions of the Citizens’ Convention and CCNE advice No.139. Under the cover of a “Humanist project for a supportive, inclusive and emancipating society“, it recommends authorising euthanasia and assisted suicide “for people suffering from serious and incurable diseases, causing unbearable and unappeasable physical or psychological suffering” without necessarily being at their end of life.

This recommendation is based on the same arguments as the Citizens’ Convention and the CCNE: The current law does not meet the needs of all medical situations, in particular for those suffering from serious and incurable diseases and whose life expectancy is not threatened in the short term. However, that argument is not supported by any data in the advice.

The other arguments in favour of modifying the law are the inequalities induced by the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide abroad, as well as the existence of illegal euthanasia in France, “outside any legal framework” which could “generate deviationsAt no time however is any mention made of the very numerous deviations observed relating to euthanasia and assisted suicide abroad nor of the persistence of a large number of illegal euthanasia in those nations which authorise euthanasia.

It should be said that the members of the temporary commission through their various auditions received only a very partial view of the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide abroad, since the only “audition” provided on the question was the viewing of the very biased round table organised by the Citizens’ Convention with the participation of Dr. Corinne Vaysse-Van Oost, an activist Belgian doctor and the Dignitas association in Switzerland which is a purveyor of assisted suicides.

The recommendations of this CESE advice are far-reaching, they go even further than the Belgian law, since the CESE recommends in particular the incorporation of assisted suicide and euthanasia in advance directives, thus authorising euthanasia for unconscious people. It also recommends reinforcing the role of the person of confidence and introducing an “accelerated procedure in the courts in situations which are impossible to conciliate.” The thirteenth and last recommendation goes as far as to call for provisions “In order to prevent any possible lawsuits and to preserve the rights of the beneficiaries and their heirs.

In this advice, everything is therefore included for the maximum facilitation of euthanasia and assisted suicide. As for any safeguards to protect the most vulnerable who could feel “a burden”, study the report as hard as you like, you will find nothing. Nowhere is there any mention of the risks of a change in the law for the aged, isolated or vulnerable. Solidarity is mentioned some twenty times in the report, as an incantation. However, it appears far removed from the concerns of this so-called “humanist” project.

Finally, the CESE states quite openly, that the next law on the end of life is a mere stepping stone. In its conclusion, the advice mentions the need for “new changes in the law”. The debates during the plenary session indicate that euthanasia for minors could be the next stage.

Regarding the terms assisted suicide and euthanasia, the report suggests replacing them, due to their “strong resonance for those who have gone through difficult and painful situations.”

Although this advice is merely advisory and in no way represents the content of the bill announced by Emmanuel Macron for before the end of the summer, it remains no less concerning and revealing of an ideology which despises weakness, ignores the principle of solidarity and erects individual autonomy as an absolute, at the risk of pushing the most vulnerable towards the exit.

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