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French President Emmanuel Macron has announced plans to introduce an ‘End of Life Model’ and tasked the government to draft a new law within months. The move has sparked criticism among some who view it as a first step towards legalizing euthanasia in the country. However, Macron believes that France must improve the availability of palliative care, and a draft bill will be presented by the end of summer to determine whether some form of assisted dying should be allowed.

The Debate Surrounding Euthanasia in France

A group of 184 randomly appointed French citizens debated the issue since December 2022, and they concluded their work this weekend with a 76% majority in favor of allowing some form of assistance to die for those who want it. However, Macron did not specify whether he wants euthanasia or assisted suicide to be permitted in France, or whether the bill would include either or both. He emphasized the importance of consensus on such a sensitive issue.

Macron’s View on the Matter

Macron has suggested that caveats to any legalization should guarantee the expression of the patient’s enlightened and free will, and the incurable nature of their mental or physical suffering. Until now, French patients in pain wishing to end their lives have had to travel abroad, including to neighboring Belgium. Although a 2005 law has legalized passive euthanasia as a “right to die” by withholding artificial life support, active euthanasia, and assisted suicide remain illegal in France. In 2016, a law allowed doctors to combine passive euthanasia with “deep and continuous sedation” for terminally ill patients in pain.

Final Thoughts

The debate surrounding euthanasia is ongoing, and President Macron’s announcement is likely to provoke further discussions. It remains to be seen whether the proposed law will include active euthanasia and/or assisted suicide. However, the French government’s focus on improving palliative care highlights the need for enhanced end-of-life care, regardless of whether the bill passes.

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