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French assisted dying draft law to be ready by the end of summer

The government wants “a balance between opening up this new right to the French people and the legitimate concerns of professionals”.

FUENTES AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus PARIS 02 DE AGOSTO DE 2023 14:40 h
French parliament. / [link]Jebulon[/link], Wikimedia commons.

The French government plans to have an “assisted dying draft law before the end of the summer.

Government spokesman Olivier Véran, confirmed in an interview on French television BFMTV that President Emmanuel Macron “has instructed the government to prepare a Bill to be able to strengthen palliative care, and work on the conditions for legalising active assistance in dying”.

According to Véran, such assistance is “eagerly awaited by the vast majority of our fellow citizens”.

In mid-July, for the first time in its history, the French Academy of Medicine came out in favour of a right to assisted suicide. Many think that may well have been the sign the government was waiting for to launch the drafting of the law.


Two options

French newspaper Le Monde, informed that the Bill should include two options.

The first would be a right to assisted suicide, while the second would involve patients injecting themselves with a lethal product under prescription, during a highly supervised procedure.

What remains to be determined is the shape of this law. That will be done in September, when the members of parliament will resume the debate.

According to a poll of the French Institute of public opinion (IFOP) in April 2021, 93% of French people believe that doctors should be authorised to end the lives of terminally ill patients without suffering if the patient so requests, but the French Medical Association does not share this view.


Controversial terms

The government wants to avoid using the words 'suicide' or 'euthanasia' in the draft law.,

But that might be difficult, because “if we replace them, we will have to find legally precise words or formulas on subjects that involve the criminal liability of those involved, because there is a constitutional requirement for the law to be clear”, explained health law expert François Stasse.

At the end of June, the Minister for Territorial Organisation and the Health Professions, Agnès Firmin Le Bodo, stated that she was “particularly keen to strike a balance between opening up this new right to the French people and the legitimate concerns of professionals”.

As the one in charge of the text, she reportedly opted for the term 'a right to assisted suicide' rather than 'euthanasia'.


Protestants defend life

Early this year, the French National Council of Evangelical Churches (CNEF) published a statement to the Minister Firmin-Le Bodo, pointing out that “by affirming the absolute value of every human life, we denounce any act that results in death, including ‘active assistance in dying’ at the end of life”.

They emphasised the importance of relieving the suffering of terminal patients, and encouraged the Minister of Health “to provide the necessary resources to develop palliative care”.

Two other evangelical groups also responded to this debate. While both agreed on the need to promote palliative care, the Protestant Federation of France (FPF) welcomed “a major national debate” on the “complex issue”, but the Evangelical Protestante Committee for Human Dignity (CPDH) denounced that “the President wants a right to euthanisia”.




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