France Parliament debates bill to legalize assisted dying

The French Parliament met on Thursday to debate a new bill that protects the right to die with dignity. The bill was proposed by centrist MP Olivier Farloni, who serves as deputy for the parliamentary splinter group Libertes et Territoires, a party made up of center-leftist and center-rightist politicians.

The bill in question is set to include the right to active assistance in dying to be included in the public health code and specifies that it shall be carried out in the form of assisted suicide or euthanasia (Article 1).  It aims to establish a legal framework that would make it possible for assisted dying to be made effective in cases of pathologies with proven serious and incurable symptoms inflicting physical or mental suffering (Article 2). It would further establish that death by assisted suicide shall be treated by the French state as a “natural death” (Article 3) and lays down the conditions in which another might be granted power of attorney in the eventuality that one is unable to express their will (Article 6), which is set to be done via advance directive (Article 5).

This was sparked by the story of terminally ill Alain Cocq who wrote to President Emmanuel Macron, asking to die on his own terms.

According to Farloni, the bill would put an end to what he referred to as the national “hypocrisy” as residents would travel to Belgium or Switzerland to be assisted in dying, while it is estimated that French doctors perform 2,000 to 4,000 illegal acts of assisted suicide per year within the country’s borders. It has also been shown support from Macron’s LREM party.

If the bill passes, France would be set to become the fifth country to not only legalize, but also decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, following Spain, whose Parliament most recently voted to protect this right in December.