Macron announces an "aid to die" law for adults and conditional

After almost seven years of personal doubts on the matter, Emmanuel Macron has finally decided to announce an "aid to die" law, a concept which, according to him, is not the same as euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
11 March 2024 Monday 11:23
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Macron announces an "aid to die" law for adults and conditional

After almost seven years of personal doubts on the matter, Emmanuel Macron has finally decided to announce an "aid to die" law, a concept which, according to him, is not the same as euthanasia or assisted suicide.

The euphemism reflects the president's almost obsessive desire for balance and, in a certain way, the French vocation for sovereignty, to always go his own way, also in the ethical field.

The bill will begin the parliamentary procedure after the Government gives the green light to the text, in April. The debate, therefore, will burst into full swing in the European elections on June 9 and will contribute to polarizing voters and heating up the campaign.

Future legal aid in dying will be possible only under strict conditions. Only people of legal age and in full use of reason may be accommodated there. Therefore, in order to avoid abuse, Alzheimer's patients or those with neurodegenerative diseases and people with psychiatric problems are excluded. A requirement of the claimants will be that they have an incurable disease or one with a very serious life prognosis in the short or medium term.

The latter criterion suggests a wide potential range that already worries detractors. A medical team will have to decide, collegially and transparently, on the various cases.

The administration of the lethal drug will be done by the patient himself, if it is physically possible for him, or a person he designates, who can be a close person, if he accepts, or a nurse or doctor. There will be a period of three months for the decision to materialize, unless the person changes their mind. Social security will take care of the expenses that this assisted dying procedure entails.

The formula chosen by Macron to announce the law was significant from the demand for balance, from the phrase "en même temps" (at the same time) that he has used so much, to the caricature, since he arrived at the Elysee in 2017.

The Head of State granted the interview to two disparate media, the newspaper Libération, flagship of the left-wing intelligentsia, and the Catholic newspaper La Croix.

At the moment, in France, there is a law that allows terminal patients to be deeply sedated until death, but those who want euthanasia or assisted suicide usually go to clinics in Belgium or Switzerland.

Some public figures, such as the actress and singer François Hardy, have made public appeals to Macron to legislate on the matter and make it possible to respect the wishes of patients in their own country.

In the end, the president proves them right, albeit with a semantic caution that expresses a moral stench. "We thought of it as a law of fraternity, a law that reconciles the autonomy of the individual and the solidarity of the nation", he declared during the interview.

Polls show a clear social majority in favor of the law that the president is promoting, although left-wing parties would like to go further. There is division in the traditional conservative right, and the extreme right is against it.

After the recent inclusion of the right to abortion in the Constitution, the future "aid to die" law will be the second major ethical issue addressed by Macron in his second term, already very agitated by social debates such as those 'have resulted from pension reform, immigration management and periodic eruptions of street violence.