If the bill is passed, France would become the fifth country in the European Union to decriminalize assisted suicide, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain.
The bill was introduced by Olivier Falorni, a deputy from the parliamentary splinter group Libertes et Territoires (“Liberty and Territories”), whose handful of deputies ranged from the center-right to the center-left.
Taking advantage of the National Assembly time assigned to his party on Thursday, Falorni plans to fight for the bill that he says raises “existential questions.”
The law, he argues, would end what it said was national “hypocrisy” because French residents often travel to Belgium or Switzerland for help in suicide, while French doctors already secretly perform between 2,000 and 4,000. acts of euthanasia every year.
Current law allows deep sedation of patients suffering from incurable diseases, but not to end their life, or help them end their own lives.
The legalization of euthanasia has the support of many parliamentarians, including the majority of President Emmanuel Macron’s own party, the LREM.
Neither Macron nor his government have intervened in the debate, although the president has officially said in 2017: “I myself wish to choose the end of my life.”
MPs hostile to euthanasia have tabled 3,000 amendments ahead of debate, slowing down Thursday’s proceedings to the point of making any vote within the allotted deadline impossible.
Of the total, 2,300 amendments were tabled by deputies from the center-right Les Republicains.
Falorni told AFP that the submissions amounted to “obstruction”, while his former party colleague Matthieu Orphelin called the amendments “shameful” as they ensured there was no vote on Thursday.
“We want to debate. We want to vote. Parliamentary time is here. Let’s respect, ”270 MPs from across the political spectrum said in an article published in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday.
Line Renaud, a beloved singer, actress and activist, published an open letter on Saturday asking parliament to give “every woman and every man the choice of the end of their lives.”
As in Spain, whose parliament last month became the last in the EU to approve euthanasia, the Catholic Church in France strongly opposes euthanasia.
“The solution when a person faces suffering is not to kill them, but to alleviate their pain and accompany them,” the Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, told France Inter radio.
While some MPs oppose euthanasia on ethical or religious grounds, others have said the issue is too important to be addressed in a single day of National Assembly proceedings.
If, unsurprisingly, time runs out before Thursday’s vote, another time will have to be found in parliament’s busy legislative schedule.
Some MPs have said the debate could be reviewed in the run-up to next year’s presidential elections.
The issue received new impetus in France last year with the case of terminally ill Frenchman Alain Cocq, who planned to refuse all food and medicine live and broadcast his death on social media.
He abandoned his initial offer after saying that the suffering became too intense.
Cocq had written to Macron in September asking him to give him a drug that would allow him to die in peace, but the president responded to say that it was not possible under French law.
“His wish is to request active assistance to die, which is currently not allowed in our country,” Macron wrote in response.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism