France says NON to assisted suicide

The French National Consultative Committee on Ethics (CCNE) has recommended that there be no change to the absolute prohibition in French law against doctors deliberately causing the death of a person either through euthanasia or assisted suicide.

In a report released on 25 September 2018 the Committee first recalled it's 2013 opinion in which it expressed major reservations about any proposal to legalise euthanasia or assisted suicide.

It considered that the law makes an essential and useful distinction between letting die and putting to death. The maintenance of the prohibition on doctors "deliberately causing death" protects people at the end of life. It would be dangerous for society if doctors could participate in deliberately causing death. Regarding assisted suicide, it considered that "this legalization is not desirable ", expressing grave concern about the indications for assisted suicide or euthanasia in countries that have decriminalized them and the extension of these indications in some of these countries.

The Committee strongly reaffirmed its opposition to legalising euthanasia or assisted suicide, in particular rebutting an argument based on “exceptional circumstances”.

It is sometimes argued that the law should be changed, recognizing in exceptional circumstances, the possibility of derogating from the prohibition on causing death. The Committee calls for an extreme caution on this subject.

We cannot ignore the difficulty, even the impossibility, for the legislator to define the notion of "exceptional  circumstance" or "extreme situation "sufficiently clearly and precisely to avoid the possibility of derogating from the principle resulting in weakening or changing it. It should also be noted that weakening of the principle could have the unacceptable consequence from the ethical point of view, of depreciating as "no longer worth being lived" the lives of the most fragile and vulnerable people."

Proponents of assisted suicide try to make out that the progressive trend is to legalise it.

France, which is a near neighbour to the three Benelux countries where it is legal (Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) has wisely reaffirmed its “non” to doctors deliberately killing their patients or assisting their suicide.


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