Sunday, February 6, 2011

Viva La France! No to Euthanasia

The French have certainly gained respect from conservatives around the world with two recent decisions: one rejecting same-sex marriage and the second rejecting euthanasia. 

MercatorNet reports:

After a passionate debate the French Senate has scuppered a bill allowing physician-assisted suicide. The margin was convincing – 170 to 142.

The opposition of the prime minister, François Fillon, seems to have been an important element in the result. In an article in Le Monde in late January, Mr Fillon warned against haste in a thoughtful speech (poorly translated in great haste by the editor):

“This scheme does not offer the necessary guarantees. The proliferation of definitions of the end of life and procedures introduces ambiguities and sources of legal uncertainty. The implementation of the act of euthanasia is itself surrounded by conditions that are imprecise. The proposed legislation provides no explicit obligation to consult with or even to inform the patient's family.

“Most importantly, such a scheme seems to be very dangerous. In the proposed legislation, control of actions would be made after the fact by a committee. Such a mechanism would certainly create a diversity of practices from one region or territory to another. While it is dangerous for the rights of people at the end of life, this scheme would also affect caregivers. They would find themselves, in effect, alone and facing the uncertain possibility of a severe punishment. The National Council of the Medical Association has also expressed its rejection of this bill.

“Faced with these serious risks, we have to show a sense of responsibility. On a subject that touches the deepest meaning of the desire to live or will to die, nothing can be barred from debate. On the contrary, the debate on the end of life is a political debate – political in the noblest sense of the word. Personally, I am against the legalization of active assistance to die; this is not my idea of respect for human life and for the values that undergird our society. But I also know that the issue of suffering in end of life is complex and can not be reduced to a few simple ideas. It is not a matter of anathematising each other or wringing one’s hands over others’ positions or taboos. We need to talk and listen respectfully to each other’s arguments. But one way must be forbidden: haste.

“On issues so deep, with such wide-ranging ethical, medical and social consequences , it is not the polls or moods of the moment that must guide us. This is a matter of life and death. This is the meaning of those last moments, deeply human moments, even when the hope of a cure is gone...

“We must tackle these issues with the seriousness they demand. The National Survey on End of Life Issues, created in February 2010, aims to increase knowledge about the conditions of the end of life and medical practices related thereto. Its work will focus particularly on the lessons from foreign experiences. They must also be carefully analysed. Since 2002, Belgium recorded a growth in the number of euthanasia cases from 24 to 822 in 2009. Everyone must weigh the risks involved when deciding whether to adopt in France a scheme that would be less precise and circumscribed than the one which currently exists in Belgium...

“Rather than legislate in haste, rather than set to work without prudence and without delay, we must continue to strengthen palliative care in France, carefully implement the development program for palliative care and deepen the debate on end of life support. This debate could take place in the coming months as part of the National Survey on End of Life issues. This is the best way to respond to the important and difficult debate about the end of life.

For those who can read French, the Académie nationale de médecine also issued a strong statement rejecting the proposed legislation which is well worth reading.

Related reading:  French Review Bioethical Laws


George Patsourakos said...

The French should be commended for recently rejecting same-sex marriage and euthanasia, as both of these concepts are anti-Christian.

I remember about 25 years ago when Dr. Jack Kavorkian was assisting many Americans in committing suicide. Dr. Kavorkian was later jailed for doing so, because his state (I believe it was Michigan) passed a law forbidding assisted suicides, and he later violated that law.

The fact is that only God should determine when a person will die.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I agree. Our days are in His hands. It is best to live each day with that knowledge.