End-of-life Law: Towards “Reverse Fraternity”


End-of-life law: towards “reverse fraternity”

During the hearing by the special commission at the French National Assembly, Tugdual Derville, the spokesman for Alliance VITA and Olivier Trédan, the association oncologist and medical advisor, explained that the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia would constitute a “reverse fraternity”.

Tugdual Derville first of all wished to lift the ambiguity inherent in the expression “assistance in dying”. This euphemizing is a subterfuge which conceals assisted suicide and euthanasia. It is dishonest for a democracy to legalise such sensitive realities without using their proper names. He also denounced the vague and subjective nature of two of the major eligibility criteria: life expectancy threatened in the medium term and unbearable psychological suffering, both of which are clearly unverifiable and “represent a Pandora’s box”.

Regarding the criteria, Dr Olivier Trédan underlined the ambivalence of patients confronted with heavy treatments “whose expressed will can change in the course of a single day or from one day to the next.” This requires accompanying each patient in their needs, without ever giving way to fate or despair.

According to Alliance VITA, the bill aims to establish a strict framework but by breaking the lock, society is being forced into an endless debate that Jean-François Delfraissy, the President of the CCNE (National Consultative Ethics Committee), already considers when he talks about a “stage law” in order to justify that minors are excluded from the text. Moreover, examples of foreign experience have shown that wherever the prohibition to kill has been lifted, the initially intended framework for exceptional circumstances has inevitably been subject to creeping change.

This bill constitutes a serious threat for the prevention of suicide. Legalising assisted suicide is tantamount to designating certain people as eligible for suicide and represents an erosion of the suicide prevention policy. The major risk, when one considers the state of our health system, is that the suicide decision, is taken, reluctantly, due to the lack of suitable care.

Finally, the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia would sanction abandoning the most vulnerable and be a renouncement of solidarity. Tugdual Derville thus stressed that: “We are not islands of self-determination. Our culture influences us and this underlying devaluation, this contempt for the weak sometimes applied to those who have become fragile, could well push them into self-exclusion. The very fraternity being claimed by the promoters of this bill is in fact a reverse fraternity.”


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