After the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) last September, the mission to assess the Claeys-Leonetti law in March, the Citizens’ Convention in April, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Cese) in May and the Court accounts at the beginning of July, a new weighty contribution has fueled the national debate on the end of life. A few weeks before the presentation of the bill promised by Emmanuel Macron “by the end of summer”, an opinion from the National Academy of Medicine was made public on Thursday 13 July. He advises, ” exceptionally ” et « under mandatory conditions”, the right to assisted suicide.
« It is inhuman, when the vital prognosis is engaged not in the short but in the medium term, not to respond to the despair of people who ask for the ways to shorten the suffering they suffer as a result of a serious and incurable disease”we read at the conclusion of this text of twelve pages. The academicians adopted it on June 27 with 60 votes out of 94 (24 voted against, ten abstained), contrasting with their past positions on the subject. “Taking into account the will of the legislator” to change the law, this institution now supports « l’prudent and supervised incorporation” of the right to assisted suicide, in order to“Helping people die as harmlessly as possible”.
Reservations and concerns among professionals
The Academy of Medicine nevertheless maintains its opposition to the decriminalization of euthanasia. Requiring the administration of the lethal substance by the physician, this indeed transgresses the Hippocratic oath (“Isn’t it never cause death”), underlines this opinion. While in the case of assisted suicide, the doctor prescribes the product to the person who administers it himself. The institution thus considers that it takes into account the “Strong reservations and concerns of the majority of healthcare professionals involved in end-of-life support » towards euthanasia. Its decriminalization would risk “confuse the markers of their vocation”indicates the text, and even “to heighten the current crisis of the lack of caregivers”.
“At least we managed to make ourselves heard on this point”, concedes Sophie Moulias, hospital geriatrician. The French Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology (SFGG), of which she is a member, is one of the thirteen professional organizations to have published, in February, an opinion firmly opposed to “active assistance in dying” in all its forms. “Before having the authorization to kill, we already want to have that of treating”insists this practitioner, recalling the insufficient access to palliative care throughout the territory. “If some people find their end of life unbearable, it is partly because they do not benefit from the care to which they are entitled. This is the emergency! »
Ask yourself about “the guarantees to be provided”
For her part, psychiatrist Sarah Dauchy, president of the National Center for Palliative and End-of-Life Care, welcomes an opinion which “is realistically rooted in clinical reality and the current care offer” and that “has the merit of questioning in a very concrete way the guarantees to be provided”. The Academy of Medicine calls for the exclusion of psychiatric illnesses from the scope of assisted suicide, but also depression or even “old age with proven cognitive impairment”.
“Except that once the process is started, the initial locks jump one after the other”replies geriatrician Sophie Moulias. “Whether in Canada, Switzerland, Belgium or the Netherlands, we now euthanize people who are depressed or suffering from cognitive disorders. »
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