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End of life

  • April 2021

A proposed law giving the right to a free and chosen end of life was debated on Thursday 8 April in the French National Assembly. Led by MP Olivier Falorni of the Radical Left Party, it would allow in certain cases "any capable person of age" to request "medical assistance" to die, "through active help".
Currently, physician-assisted suicide is illegal in France. The Leonetti-Claeys law on patients’ rights and the end of life prohibits "unreasonable obstruction" and "artificial prolongation of life" by the medical profession. Passed in 2016, this law allows deep and continuous sedation until the patient’s death.
The parliamentary debates could not succeed : some MPs are opposed to this law. Some conservative MPs tabled nearly 3000 amendments, while the time allowed to complete the debate was only one day.
Health Minister Olivier Véran considers that a better application of the Claeys-Leonetti law would be preferable to a new law. Several ministers also believe that in the midst of a health crisis, the time is not right for this debate.
The parliamentary debates could not be concluded: only the first article could be discussed. The bill should be put back on the agenda of the National Assembly, but it is not sure that there will be an opportunity before the end of the legislature. However, the majority of MPs support this bill, which is also supported by a large part of public opinion (as the Vincent Lambert case had shown), while the text has been opposed by the Roman Catholic Church.

See also:
- Law n° 2016-87 of 2 February 2016 creating new rights for patients and people at the end of life (Loi n° 2016-87 du 2 février 2016 créant de nouveaux droits en faveur des malades et des personnes en fin de vie), also named Leonetti-Claeys Law
- Survey The French view of end of life (Le regard des Français sur la fin de vie), IFOP for Association pour le Droit de Mourir dans la Dignité, April 2021
- Survey The French and the end of life (Les Français et la fin de vie), IFOP for "Soulager mais pas tuer", March 2021
- The Roman Catholic Church and the end of life

D 3 May 2021   

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