May 25, 2024

Draft legislation paving the way for assisted suicide for terminally patients will be placed before the French National Assembly in May, President Emmanuel Macron has said in an interview published on Monday.

Adults capable of taking decisions with a life-threatening illness over the medium term and whose pain cannot be alleviated will be allowed to request euthanasia, according to the interview published in the Libération and La Croix dailies.

They will then receive a response to their request following a delay of at most two weeks, Macron said. Where possible, the patients will be required to administer the fatal doses to themselves.

The issue is controversial in France. Administering fatal medication to another person is currently illegal, but passive assisted dying, by for example switching off life-support equipment or administering strong painkillers that accelerate death as a side-effect, is permissible.

Macron announced moves towards legislation on assisted suicide in the autumn. A lengthy consultation process was then initiated. A majority came out in favour of allowing assisted suicide.

France’s Ethics Council (CCNE) ruled that active assisted dying was conceivable under certain strict conditions.

The decision on whether a patient should receive assisted suicide is to be taken by consultation, according to the Élysée Palace, with at least two doctors deciding together.

Health professionals are to be permitted to refuse to provide assisted suicide services, but must then refer patients on to other health professionals.

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