Véran opens the door to the end of life

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Asked about the possibility of authorizing assisted suicide in France, as is the case in Switzerland, government spokesman Olivier Véran said that “all options are on the table”.

Mr. Véran was accompanied by the Minister Delegate for the Health Professions Agnès Firmin le Bodo, and members of the parliamentary working group on the end of life, to meet the nursing staff of the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG).

An opinion of the citizens’ convention is expected in March

He underlined the importance of the work of the citizens’ convention on the end of life, which is currently looking into the question of a possible change in French law.

Even if the terms “euthanasia” or “assisted suicide” are not explicitly mentioned, the participants will examine the advisability of legalizing one or the other. In March, they will say whether or not to change the current law, without guarantee of being followed.

“These citizens who come together and who must allow us to have a peaceful debate are pioneers,” said Mr. Véran. “We are not making it a political fight in the political sense of the term. We are not making it a partisan fight, ”he added.

Mr. Véran had already traveled to Belgium to study the legislation in this country, and further trips are under consideration, particularly to Spain.

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“We do not consider that there is a country that is ahead or behind another, because here we are touching the heart of the intimate, death. It’s very personal and it can refer to a lot of conviction, a lot of fears, a lot of fear, ”he said, however.

“A very different way of making the law”

Current French law provides for “deep sedation” for the terminally ill and suffering unrelentingly, but does not authorize euthanasia or assisted suicide.

In Switzerland, only those who, “driven by a selfish motive”, lend assistance to someone’s suicide are punishable.

“It’s a way of making the law which is very different from what we know in France where we start from the principle that everything is prohibited, except what is authorized”, commented Mr. Véran.

Present during the visit to the HUG, the President of the Council of State of the canton of Geneva, Mauro Poggia, underlined that the fact of wanting to settle by law issues “which are settled through dialogue, understanding, empathy, listening” could “lead to a blockage and disempowerment of all the actors”.

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