If the bill were passed, France would become the fifth country in the European Union after the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain to decriminalize suicide with help in cases of incurable diseases or when a patient suffers constant unbearable suffering.
The bill was presented by MP Olivier Falorni. He is vice-chairman of the Liberty and Territories (Libertes et Territoires) group in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly. The group, which has several dozen members, includes both center-right and center-left MPs.
Falorni said he would fight for the bill, which he said raised “existential questions”, within the time allotted for his party at Thursday’s meeting.
According to the deputy, this law would put an end to national “hypocrisy”, as French people often travel to Belgium or Switzerland to commit assisted suicide, and French doctors secretly perform between 2 and 4 thousand euthanasia each year.
Current laws allow deep sedation for terminally ill patients, but prohibit them from ending their lives or helping them commit suicide.
The legitimation of euthanasia is supported by many French parliamentarians, including most members of President Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche (LREM) centrist party.
Neither Macron nor his government is interfering in the euthanasia debate. Still, the president has said in 2017, “Personally, I’d like to choose how to end my life.”
“We want to consider”
Parliamentarians who do not support euthanasia submitted 3 thousand. amendments which will make it impossible to hold any vote during Thursday’s sitting. Of these amendments, 2,300 were tabled by members of the opposition right-wing party Republicans (Les Republicains, LR).
Falorni told AFP the act was “obstructive,” and his party colleague Matthieu Orphelin called the amendments that prevented a vote on Thursday “shameful.”
“It simply came to our notice then. We want to vote. It is time for parliament. Let’s respect that, “wrote the 270-member article in the Le Journal du Dimanche, which represents the entire political spectrum.
Prominent French actress, singer and activist Line Renaud issued an open letter on Saturday urging parliament to “give every woman and every man a choice in how to end their lives.”
In France, as in Spain, whose parliament passed a law legalizing euthanasia last month, the Catholic Church strongly opposes euthanasia.
“The solution when a person suffers suffering is not to kill him, but to alleviate the suffering and to be present,” Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris told France Inter France.
Some parliamentarians oppose euthanasia for ethical or religious reasons, but others say the issue is extremely important and cannot be resolved in parliament in just one sitting.
AFP / “Scanpix” nuotr./Eutanazija
If there is not enough time for a vote on Thursday, another time will need to be found on the busy parliamentary agenda.
Some deputies said the debate could be returned to in the run-up to next year’s presidential election.
The issue came back into the spotlight last year when the terminally ill Frenchman Alain Cocq announced plans to give up all food and medication and broadcast his death live on social media.
Yet the Frenchman abandoned these plans, stating that “suffering has become unbearable.”
In September, Cocq wrote a letter to Macron asking for access to medication that would allow him to die painlessly. However, the president replied that this was prohibited by French law.
“You are asking for help to commit suicide, but it is currently forbidden in our country,” Macron wrote.