France: Citizens' Convention supports active assistance in dying legislation

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne at the launch of the citizens' convention on the end of life, at the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESCE), in Paris, in December 2022 (illustration image). AFP - ALAIN JOCARD

Text by: RFI Follow

2 min

While reporting important nuances, the Citizens' Convention on the End of Life, which for months has brought together French people drawn by lot to guide the action of the executive, concluded, Sunday, April 2, its debates by confirming its majority position.


Read more


For a majority of citizens of the Convention, access to active assistance in dying must be open." This is the conclusion of the report voted Sunday by the Citizens' Convention on the end of life, which brings together at the initiative of the government 184 French people drawn by lot. She had to say whether the current legislation on the end of life seemed appropriate to all situations.

Nuances and divisions

The Claeys-Leonetti law authorizes "prolonged and continuous sedation", in other words a definitive plunge into unconsciousness, for patients in a desperate state in the short term and whose suffering is intolerable. But it does not go so far as to authorize "active assistance in dying", that is, either an act of euthanasia by a caregiver, or assisted suicide.

► Read also: A brief history of euthanasia and assisted suicide since antiquity

But if they call on the government for "profound changes" to allow better support at the end of life, they do not hide the divisions on the subject and reveal important nuances in their report. Thus, the Convention does not express a majority position on the case of minors or that of persons incapable of expressing their will. It insists on setting up a complex path, with many safeguards. It also advocates for a "conscience clause" allowing caregivers to refuse to perform an act of euthanasia or assisted suicide. The report also details precisely various positions, including the minority against legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide.

For better access to palliative care

Lack of caregivers, medical deserts... The participants also wanted to begin their report by drawing attention to the "alarming situation" of the French health system and the resulting concrete difficulties of access to what is already provided for by law, including the sufficient supply of palliative care. Beyond the single issue of euthanasia or assisted suicide, the convention therefore makes a long list of recommendations to develop palliative care and facilitate its access.

What will happen to these recommendations now? President Emmanuel Macron, who had in the past spoken out in favour of changing the law but now refrains from making a clear statement, is due to receive participants in the Convention on Monday to say what follow-up he intends to give to their work.

► Also listen: [World tour of correspondents] End of life: the situation in Belgium, the United States, Italy and South Africa


With AFP)

Newsletter Receive all the international news directly in your mailbox

I subscribe

Follow all the international news by downloading the RFI application

Read on on the same topics:

  • France
  • Society
  • Health and medicine
  • Human rights