Tuesday, January 18

Society. Assisted suicide, euthanasia: in France, “there is a huge legal vacuum”

A first case of assisted suicide was authorized by an Ethics Committee in Italy for a truck driver who became quadriplegic ten years ago following a road accident. In this country, this practice has so far been punishable by 5 to 12 years in prison.

In France, active euthanasia and assisted suicide are still not authorized. Only “deep and continuous sedation, up to death” has been legal since the adoption of the Claeys-Leonetti law in 2016. But this “right to let die” is only accessible to people whose prognosis vital is committed in the short term, which does not allow the French to choose their end of life in the eyes of Philippe Lohéac, General Delegate of the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity. Interview.

Active and passive euthanasia, assisted suicide … What are we talking about?

Assisted suicide, also known as assisted suicide, involves providing an environment and means for a person to commit suicide.

It is distinguished from euthanasia, which consists in triggering the death of a person who cannot give it to himself.

Passive euthanasia consists of interrupting treatments or devices that keep a person alive, such as artificial feeding.

What do the legal texts say about assisted suicide and euthanasia?

The only text that exists in France concerning the prohibition of assisted dying is found in the Public Health Code. This is an article that says the doctor cannot deliberately kill. The word euthanasia does not appear anywhere. As for suicide, it has been authorized since 1792. And assisted suicide is not, in fact, prohibited. As well as provocation to suicide. So we have to understand that today we cannot ask for the decriminalization of something that is not penalized.

Can we therefore speak of a legal vacuum?

There is a huge legal vacuum! It is for this reason that we brandish Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights which explains that this legal vacuum is to the detriment of those who want to die, but also of those who want to live. Because we know that in France there are active aids in dying which are not supervised and which are carried out under unclear conditions, sometimes to the detriment of the patient.

This is why the ADMD campaigns not for a universal right to assisted suicide, but for a law that allows the legalization of active assistance in dying, to allow everyone to choose the conditions of their own end of life. . This is not the case today.

Why do you think the Claeys-Leonetti law is not sufficient?

This 2016 law proposes something that we qualify as dramatic: deep sedation, which is death slowly. It is to dehydrate someone, undernourish them, and wait until severe kidney failure occurs, and it is that failure that kills the patient. In addition, it only applies to patients at the very end of life, whose vital prognosis is committed in the short term. In fact, it cannot be applied to people with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or Charcot. Because to be able to benefit from it, you have to wait until the very last hours. However, if we take the example of Charcot’s disease, in the very last hours, we suffocate. It’s horrible.

It’s the same with brain dead people, isn’t it?

Absolutely ! Realize: the 2016 law was passed while Vincent Lambert was in the state we know, in a hospital bed in Reims. We had a law passed in our country when there was a media and dramatic end-of-life affair in progress and this text was not capable of finding a solution to provide an answer to the case of Vincent Lambert. It’s scandalous.

In Europe, active euthanasia is authorized in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain. In Switzerland, patients with incurable diseases can resort to assisted suicide.

The French who can are therefore obliged to go abroad, to countries authorizing euthanasia?

Yes, but for example in the Netherlands the law does not apply to foreigners. In Belgium, it is particularly aimed at people who do not reside in the country since it requires regular monitoring by Belgian medicine. And concerning Switzerland, which allows assisted suicide, the problem remains the financial aspect … Of course, we appreciate the help provided by the Swiss to the French, but this cannot be a solution for the end of life. dramas in a country like France, which tells people that the only thing to do is to pack your bags and go abroad far from your loved ones, from your world.

Emmanuel Macron could integrate the end of life into his presidential program for 2022 …

From corroborating sources, he said to himself that he could integrate the issue of the end of life into his program if he ran for re-election. It remains to be seen what he means by that. Does he want to do like Anne Hidalgo and legalize euthanasia? Or like Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who wants to include active assistance in dying in the constitution? Or just open the debate? We do not know.


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