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 its debates on Sunday, April 2, by confirming its majority position to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide.
"For a majority of citizens of the Convention, access to active assistance in dying must be open," says the Convention in its report voted on Sunday, while noting important nuances.
The Convention thus does not express a majority position on the case of minors or that of persons incapable of expressing their will. The report also details precisely various positions, including the minority against legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide.
This convention, convened at the call of the government in autumn 2022, brings together 184 French people drawn by lot, whose opinion aims to guide the action of the executive. They had to say whether the current legislation on the end of life, set by the Claeys-Leonetti law of 2016, appears adapted to all situations and whether changes are needed.
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"Alarming situation" of the French health system
This law authorizes "prolonged and continuous sedation", in other words a permanent 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 to say either an act of euthanasia by a caregiver, or assisted suicide.
The majority of French people gathered in convention felt that the current framework for the end of life was not appropriate. However, they do not only blame the current legislation.
They also highlight the practical difficulties of access to what is provided for by law, including an adequate supply of palliative care. As such, the Convention focuses on the "alarming situation" of the French health system.
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.
The uncertainty now concerns the concrete translation of these recommendations, including the drafting of a new law.
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 the participants in the convention on Monday to say what follow-up he intends to give to their work.
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