Euthanasia in France: “I will resort to assisted suicide”

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Do we have the right to choose how we want to die? The debate on the end of life is again at the heart of the news after the latest statements by Emmanuel Macron. The President of the Republic announced on Tuesday, September 13 the launch of a citizen consultation on the end of life, with the objective of a new “legal framework” by the end of 2023.

In a press release published during the day, the Elysée Palace specified that this citizens’ convention will be organized by the CESE (Economic, Social and Environmental Council), from October for conclusions which will be delivered in March 2023. Debates will also be organized in the territories “in order to reach out to all citizens and allow them to be informed and to measure the issues that relate to the end of life”, adds the press release, quoted by Le Point. These statements follow the publication of an opinion from the National Ethics Advisory Committee, which judges that “active assistance in dying” could apply in our country, but “under certain strict conditions”.

Currently, the end of life of terminally ill patients is governed by the Claeys-Leonetti law of 2016, which prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide. For patients in the terminal phase and in great suffering, when the vital prognosis is engaged, “deep and continuous sedation” is still possible. Treatments can also be stopped by doctors in the event of therapeutic relentlessness and a patient can himself ask to stop everything. If he cannot express himself and he has not left clear directives, it is up to the doctors to decide on the question.

Even if it is prohibited, assisted suicide is the choice of some French people who do not want to suffer longer than necessary. Meet one of them.

Lucie, 74, is a member of the Ultime Liberté association, which campaigns for voluntary euthanasia and the legalization of assisted suicide. She defines the latter as the wish of a person who “wants to stop living and who asks not to be alone in this moment when she is going to pass from life to death”. She adds that this person “wants a suicide that is not violent”: “We have the right to commit suicide in France, but the problem is that it is really violent, with a lot of suffering. under a train, from a bridge, shooting yourself in the head… It’s terrible. Assisted suicide makes it possible to avoid this suffering, this violence”, she adds.

If this choice presents itself to her, Lucie knows that she will opt for assisted suicide, in order “not to be dependent, not to be degraded”. “I’ve seen a few people around me who have had an interesting, important life, who find themselves after an accident – ​​a stroke, a heart attack – like a small animal being washed. It’s a degradation, a abuse,” she told Planet.

Although they are totally illegal in France, people at the end of life, most often sick, have already made this choice, helped by relatives. This is particularly the case of filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, who resorted to assisted suicide in Switzerland, where it is authorized. Two years ago, he already said he did not want to “be dragged in a wheelbarrow” if he was too sick.

Legal or not, assisted suicide is a choice Lucie will not back down from. Here’s why.

Lucie knows that it will still take time for France to legalize assisted suicide, while several of our European neighbors have taken the plunge: “We are very late compared to others, there is a very big resistance in France”. When she talks about it around her, Lucie arouses either interest or disgust: “Some people ask for an explanation, others absolutely don’t want to hear about it”.

If she is confirmed in her choice despite this reluctance, it is also because she regrets certain situations, which she has witnessed: “We keep the elderly in appalling conditions, while medicine has made progress. talks about people who continue to live with high doses of drugs, infusions, but who no longer have any autonomy,” she explains. No way this will happen to her, the septuagenarian has made her decision. Could an event change her mind? “If one day I can no longer walk, if I can no longer see clearly, it will be final, nothing will make me change my mind,” she concludes.