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France’s Macron announces plans for assisted dying bill

French President Emmanuel Macron said he would propose legislation in May for adults to “ask to be helped to die” when they are faced with terminal illnesses.

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced plans for a bill to legalize medical assistance in dying for adults diagnosed with an incurable disease and facing imminent death.

Macron told newspapers La Croix and Liberation that the new legislation to legalize “aid in dying” under certain conditions would only apply to those above 18 years of age.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal wrote on X on Monday that the bill would be put forward in parliament on May 27. “Death can no longer be a taboo issue and subject to silence,” he wrote in French.

Proposed law to give people humane options in death

The legislation is meant to offer “a possible path, in a determined situation, with precise criteria, where the medical decision is playing its role,” Macron said. He gave the example of people with terminal cancer, some of whom had traveled elsewhere to seek assistance in dying.

The bill will apply to adults who are fully capable of making decisions and to those facing “intractable” physical or psychological pain and death in “short or middle-term,” Macron said.

Minors and patients suffering from psychiatric or neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s will not be eligible.

Macron was clear the legislation will refer to “aid in dying … because it’s simple and humane” rather than terms like euthanasia or medically assisted suicide.

The proposed draft law follows a report last year that indicated most French nationals support legalizing end-of-life options.

Pushback against the bill

The plan has already faced some criticism in France.

The associations for palliative care, cancer support and specialist nurses said in a joint statement that Macron “has with great violence announced a system far removed from patients’ needs and health workers’ daily reality, which could have grave consequences on the care relationship.”

They said the government was saving money with the plan and called for greater resources to be alloted to palliative care so people could “die with dignity.”

How will the proposed process work?

Under the new legislation, only people above 18 can ask for life-ending medication and those who seek to enter the process will need to reconfirm their choice after 48 hours.

They should then receive an answer from a medical team within two weeks, Macron said. A doctor will then deliver a prescription, which will be valid for three months, for the life-ending medication.

People can either choose to administer the medication themselves at home or, if they are not able to do so, ask for help at a nursing home or a health care facility.

Source: Dw

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