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End of life: the “assisted death” desired by Emmanuel Macron reactivates divisions

It is the most sensitive of the reforms announced in Parliament this year, in the midst of less controversial texts - agriculture, housing, business simplification.

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End of life: the “assisted death” desired by Emmanuel Macron reactivates divisions

It is the most sensitive of the reforms announced in Parliament this year, in the midst of less controversial texts - agriculture, housing, business simplification... It is also the one which touches the most intimate matters. By paving the way for “assisted dying”, one of his campaign promises, Emmanuel Macron provoked strong reactions. His bill combines the strengthening of palliative care and the “possibility” for certain patients to receive a “lethal substance”, he explained in an interview with Libération and La Croix published on Monday. But it opposes the supporters of the ultimate freedom to choose one's death and the supporters of care even in the most difficult situations, in the name of solidarity.

According to the President of the Republic, the current Claeys-Leonetti law “did not make it possible to deal with very difficult human situations”. “We can think of the cases of patients suffering from terminal cancer who, for some, are obliged to go abroad to be supported,” he says. We therefore had to go further.” The head of state is careful not to use the most controversial words “euthanasia” and “assisted suicide”. It specifies that “assisted dying” will be reserved, under “strict conditions”, for certain patients: adults “capable of full and complete discernment”, suffering from an “incurable illness” and a “vital prognosis committed in the short or medium term”, and finally victims of “physical or psychological” suffering, “which cannot be relieved”.

Despite these terms, Emmanuel Macron is accused by caregivers, the Church and the right of crossing the red line of the ban on killing. He is also criticized for dressing his project with the word “fraternity”. A “deception”, judges the president of the Conference of Bishops, Éric de Moulins-Beaufort.

In detail, the chosen schedule provides for an examination in the National Assembly from May 27. Or on the eve of the European elections on June 9, at the risk of reviving the reluctance of part of the political class. On the right and in the National Rally (RN), several executives accuse the head of state of “creating a diversion” with this “social issue”.

In Parliament, where the executive hopes to obtain a majority, the choice of deputies and senators will not be a matter of group instructions but of freedom of vote. Emmanuel Macron's entourage calls for serenity: "There is no reason why what happened in civil society and at the citizens' convention (on the end of life) should not also happen in Parliament."

Anxious to move forward without hindrance, the defenders of the bill respond to its opponents that the text is accompanied by a “ten-year strategy” on palliative care. An additional billion euros must be invested over 10 years, and the twenty-one departments without a palliative care unit must be equipped with one. The government's copy should, however, be subject to multiple amendments. The end-of-life “model” “must come from parliamentary deliberation,” warned the President of the Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, on March 6 on France Inter. As if to remind us that Parliament will have the last word.

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