/
Swipe to see the other side.
13
204

Should euthanasia be legalized in France?

11937
59%
41%
Despite being illegal in France, active euthanasia is practiced clandestinely in many French healthcare institutions. It would to be necessary to legalize euthanasia in order to properly handle it.
Source: flickr

Legalization of euthanasia: a small step for France, one giant leap for mankind

Jennifer Arnoux | translated by: Iasmina Cioroianu | 2014. September 08. 16:16

When a seriously ill person is in a desperate situation, on occassion, the medical team embarkes on an aggressive therapy that propels the patient into a spiral of examinations and treatments. Generally such treatments will not prolong the life of the patient but will deteriorate its quality.

Many French people today still die in agony, while legalization of active euthanasia would allow them instant and painless death. Sedation, the practice currently preferred by the National Consultative Ethics Committee, results in death over a longer period, during which the patient may have to go through excruciating pain.

This was the problem at the heart of the case of Vincent Humbert, whose mother made his doctor promise not to let him continue living in unbearable suffering. Given the state of his patient, the doctor decided to disconnect Vincent Humbert from his vital equipment, plunged him into deep sedation and administered potassium chloride, which eventually caused his death. The doctor was prosecuted for his last act. Should we therefore let people agonize for days rather than shorten their suffering and offer them a dignified death?

*Regulating an already common practice

Passive euthanasia is legal since the so-called Leonetti law was passed in 2005. It allows people with severe and incurable, advanced or terminal deseases, to limit or stop their treatment. Doctors must inform patients of the consequences of their decision and respect their wishes. Since this law came into force, the rights of terminally ill patients were not pushed any further. French public opinion is however mostly in favor of active euthanasia, a practice that is common in French hospitals and clinics. Since it is already practiced, it seems essential to legalize it and grant it a clear legal framework.

Regulating active euthanasia would finally define what doctors can and cannot do. Until it is not regulated, cases similar to those that happened before the legalization of abortion will continue to make the headlines. Before abortion was legalized, some doctors carried them out correctly, but others executed them in atrocious conditions, charging exorbitant fees, scarring their patients for the rest of their lives. We can easily see the similarities with active euthanasia, which at the moment is practiced at the discretion of physicians. Without regulation, it will forever be practiced clandestinely by almighty doctors.

*Strict conditions to prevent abuse

Active euthanasia should be legalized in France because a man is free to choose his own death, and because he has the right to die with dignity.

To prevent abuse however, active euthanasia should only be performed under strict conditions. The patients should be in a hopeless medical condition, causing them significant suffering. They must expressly ask to be euthanized, and their demand should be confirmed a second time, in order to ensure that they were not taking an impulsive decision. Actually, why not forsee the creation of a new legal act, based on the model of the will, which would have to be done before a notary to attest their desire to be euthanized in such case? This act would be a clear evidence of the will of an incapacitated patient who would no longer be able to express himself. The procedure should also be strictly regulated to prevent abuses.

A human being has the right to decide what he wants to do with his life and how he wants to live. He is free to shorten his life by means of suicide. So why shouldn't we help him end his days with dignity by legalizing euthanasia in France?

Dangers and pretense of a false good measure

Jérôme Nicolaï | translated by: Iasmina Cioroianu | 2014. September 08. 15:18

The euthanasia debate suffers from inaccuracies, which decrease its chances of coming up with a compelling solution. It is necessary to bring some clarity to it in order to understand the serious consequences of a prospective legalization.

The euthanasia debate suffers from inaccuracies, which decrease its chances of coming up with a compelling solution. It is necessary to bring some clarity to it in order to understand the serious consequences of a prospective legalization.

An increasingly tense debate on euthanasia is fed by a political blur on the issue. Announced with great fanfare in President Holland's proposal no 21 during his 2012 presidential campaign, no concrete steps on the legalization of euthanasia have been undertaken by the current socialist majority. It is up to the public to decide whether this is a sign of a lacking political will or mere precaution to solve a very sensitive issue. However, it is essential for everyone to be well aware of what the stakes of the debate are, in order to understand the dangers concealed by the legalization of euthanasia.

*Lack of understanding of the French society

Proponents of the legalization of euthanasia often cite the popularity of the measure in the polls, to sustain that legislation in not keeping up with the changing mentality of French society. But what is the hidden truth behind these surveys, all of which are phrased in a purposely vague manner? The ambiguity of the term euthanasia, misunderstood by respondents.

This term is poorly explained and regularly misused in French public debates. Often, euthanasia in a strict sense is not differentiated from provisions, which have been legalized after the entry into force of the so-called Leonetti law of 22 April 2005, such as palliative care or prohibition of an "unreasonable persistence" in pursuit of a cure. They already allow doctors to help terminal patients, who have to endure suffering, to a humane end of life. On the other hand, euthanasia would mean to be causing the death of a patient directly by a lethal injection, which is administered by medical professionals or by the patient himself. It is very unlikely that people who were interviewed have understood this distinction, therefore these polls do not reflect the French public opinion being in favour of euthanasia. One should therefore be wary of organizations that play on the ambiguity of a term to invent popular support for themselves.

*The bad faith of the ADMD

The Association for the Right to Die with Dignity (ADMD) is one of the leading activists for the legalization of euthanasia in France, that they want to model after the Belgian legislation. Recurring misueses and abuses should however be pointed out in their action. In the case of Chantal Sebire, ADMD sought to hide the fact that this patient, suffering from a rare and painful disease, systematically refused all palliative care. The goal was to blame the medical community refusing to euthanize her for the suffering of this woman. But saying no to euthanasia does not necessarily mean letting patients suffer, no offense to the ADMD.

This type of mindset does not favor quality debate on this crucial issue, but leads to the exclusion of the medical community by unjustly accusing it of a refusal to evolve.

*Reflecting a certain understanding of human life

More importantly, those wishing for the legalization of euthanasia in France are ignoring the abuses in countries which legalized the procedure. The Belgian euthanasia kit and the Dutch "last will pill", both of which are available in pharmacies, show that it is a certain understanding of human life that is threatened by supposedly "progressive" laws. Should one need to be firmly against euthanasia to be shocked by a report submitted by the Belgian End of Life Observatory, published on February 15, 2012, which shows that one third of euthanasia cases carried out in the country are done without an explicit request on behalf of the patient?

In the Vincent Lambert case, it was a healthy outcome that the law was restrictive enough not to grant any quick solution that could be taken to end a person's life in a coma. What would have happed if a more permissive law was in force? It is a question worth asking.

It is therefore ignorance of these abuses that allows pro-euthanasia citizens to pursue their demands. But noone should be mistaken on the main danger that the legalization of euthanasia conceals: the propensity that the scope of what is allowed would gradually increase, to the detriment of patients.

R. Badinter, principal architect of the abolition of the death penalty in France, spoke in these terms about euthanasia, "noone shall take another person's life in a democracy." We can see then how the euthanasia debate transcends the traditional left-right divide.

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

The state of votes

59%
41%

Legalization of euthanasia: a small step for France, one giant leap for mankind

Jennifer Arnoux|translated by: Iasmina Cioroianu

Dangers and pretense of a false good measure

Jérôme Nicolaï | translated by: Iasmina Cioroianu

0 Comments

Take part in the debate! share your opinion with us!

Become a member of our team!

Would you like to take part in the Duel Amical project? or would you just publish an article? Please send an email to duelamical@duelamical.eu. Click here for more information.