Alex Schadenberg comments on the recent announcement by President Francois Hollande that, in spite of clear opposition from the national ethics committee, he intends to push a euthanasia bill into the French Parliament later this year.
France government ethics committee rejects the legalization of assisted suicide.
By Alex Schadenberg,
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition - International Chair,
France's official Ethics Advisory Committee (CCNE) has rejected the legalization of assisted suicide after a majority vote.
The committee which had been asked to investigate the issue of euthanasia and come up with recommendations voted against Swiss style assisted suicide, where lethal medication is deliberately given to a patient. The vote was made public on Monday, July 1.
Last December, France's official Ethics Advisory Committee rejected the legalization of euthanasia. The the report from the Comité Consultatif National d'Ethique that examined the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide concluded that assisted suicide may be legalized but opposed euthanasia. The Committee stated that euthanasia is:
“a radical medical gesture” that crossed “a forbidden barrier” – and was both impractical and immoral
The report 'severely criticised current medical care of terminally-ill patients in France and called for the development of better palliative care regimes' and it emphasized the moral use of palliative sedation rather than euthanasia or assisted suicide.
A poll that was released in January 2012 found that 60% of the people in France preferred improvements to palliative care rather than legalizing euthanasia.
A report from Reuters news stated that Francois Hollande, France's President, will introduce a bill, later this year, to legalize euthanasia. The euthanasia bill would be against the recommendations of the Ethics Advisory Committee.
The Ethics Advisory Committee in rejecting assisted suicide stated what it did support improvements to palliative care and sedation practices stated that:
'Deep sedation' is one 'end of life' care option the CCNE are in favour of which would see the patient put to sleep until the end of their life, if they have requested it and if they have asked for all treatments to be stopped.
"With sedation, it is intended to relieve the patient, but in no event bring about their death," Vincent Morel, President of the French Society for support and palliative care and a doctor at the University Hospital of Rennes told Europe1 radio.
In February, the ethics council said that out of a “duty of humanity”, and where there were “persistent, lucid and repeated requests from someone suffering from an ailment for which the treatment has become ineffective,” it should be legal to withdraw that treatment and allow that individual to die.
But it said at the time that the condition should be verified "not by a sole doctor but a medical team" and did not use the term euthanasia but spoke of "assisted death".
|Paris Protest in 2012.|
The committee has also been emphatic in ruling out Swiss-style assisted suicide clinics such as Dignitas, where individuals not necessarily suffering from terminal or incurable illnesses, volunteer to be given lethal injections so as to end their lives.
Last year, groups opposing euthanasia organized several effective rallies.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition predicts that the government of France will face massive opposition to its proposed euthanasia bill. We also predict that the euthanasia bill will be defeated in France.