France to draft 'end-of-life' bill, says Emmanuel Macron
President Emmanuel Macron said a draft bill on "end-of-life" care will be prepared by summer
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday his government plans to present a draft bill concerning end-of-life care in the coming months, building on the work of a citizens council that debated the issue.
The group of 184 French citizens voted in favor of offering some form of assisted dying with a 76% majority on Sunday.
Currently, euthanasia is legal in four European countries: the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and Spain. Assisted suicide has been permitted in Switzerland for decades, while Germany and Portugal are currently debating the issue.
Bill to be drafted with conditions
Macron specified his wishes to put forward "a French model for 'end-of-life,'" while highlighting the need for consensus on such a sensitive matter.
Macron said that an active assisted dying should be carried out with caution, and not for a social reason, such as responding to the isolation that sometimes comes with a terminal diagnosis.
Although Macron hasn't provided details about what options the bill will allow, he has insisted that any changes to current legislation will be set by strict conditions.
The president vowed to improve access for all terminally ill patients to palliative care, saying that wanted "a ten-year national plan to treat pain and ensure palliative care with the needed investments" in the future.
Macron also suggested that the future bill would exclude cases involving minors.
Assisted suicide or euthanasia?
Macron hasn't made it clear whether the new bill, due to be ready by the end of summer 2023, would allow for voluntary euthanasia, assisted suicide — or both — to be legally permitted in France.
Macron has himself stated that he has "a personal opinion that can evolve," but also as head of state has "a responsibility for agreement and a wish for appeasement."
Assisted dying can refer to both voluntary euthanasia — where a physician plays an active role in ending a patient's life upon their request — and assisted suicide, where a patient is given the means to end their own life.
The National Council of Doctors in France, l'Ordre des medecins, has stated that they oppose doctors to be involved in ending a person's life.
Legality of assisted dying in Europe
Active voluntary euthanasia is legal in four European countries: the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and Spain. Switzerland was the only country where assisted suicide has been permitted before 1997.
Recent polls show that most French citizens are in favor of legalizing some form of assisted dying.
Some countries like Austria only allow for passive euthanasia under strict conditions, where physicians can stop medical treatment at the patient's request. Last year, Italy approved an assisted suicide for the first time, allowing an Italian man to die after he'd been paralyzed for 12 years.
Debates around assisted dying continue to evolve in other European countries, including Germany.
If you are suffering from serious emotional strain or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You can find information on where to find such help, no matter where you live in the world, at this website: https://www.befrienders.org/
vh/rs (AFP, AP, Reuters)