Contenuto disponibile in Italiano

France: States General of Bioethics. Bishops’ Declaration, “End of life: yes to the urgency of fraternity”

“End of life: yes to the urgency of fraternity”. This is the title of a Declaration signed by the 118 Bishops of France and issued today from Lourdes, the town that is hosting the Bishops’ Plenary Assembly. The Bishops expressed their stance on the end of life issue addressed in the so-called Claeys-Leonetti law that entered into force two years ago, on 2 February 2016. The law upholds the principle that “everyone has the right to a decent and peaceful end of life” and calls on healthcare providers to use “all the means at their disposal to ensure that this right is respected”. The measures include the introduction of the right to “deep and continue sedation” for terminally ill patients and advance directives. Two years after its entry into force, the law has once again been called into question in the context of the General States of Bioethics, which started on 18 January 2018. Two topics are being discussed: euthanasia and assisted suicide.
In their statement, the Bishops reiterated their support for palliative care. It is a matter of concern for the Bishops that this care is still little known. The Bishops “lament” the fact that there is inequality of access to this type of care on the French territory as well as insufficient medical training. It is precisely because of these deficiencies and the media coverage of certain specific cases that “many demand a change in legislation and the legalization of medical assistance with regard to suicide and euthanasia”.
Faced with these requests, the Bishops reaffirm their “ethical opposition” based on “six reasons”. First, the law has been in force for just two years and its application is still largely a work in progress. Changing the law now – the Bishops wrote – would show “a lack of respect for the legislative work done”. How can the State – the Bishops asked at point 2 – facilitate assisted suicide and euthanasia while also developing a plan against suicide without contradicting itself? At point 3, it should be noted that if the State entrusted medicine with the task of carrying out requests for euthanasia and assisted suicide, healthcare workers might be misled into thinking that “a life is no longer worth living”, which would be in contradiction with the medical code of ethics. “A killing – the Bishops wrote –, even when allegedly performed out of compassion, can in no way be a cure”.
Point 4 is devoted to terminally ill patients who “need trust and to feel they are listened to in order to share their desires, even though these desires are often ambivalent”. “The vulnerability of persons in situations of dependence and end of life does not call for a gesture of death but for accompaniment in solidarity”. Those who support assisted suicide and euthanasia invoke “the sovereign decision of the sick”. But can this right to freedom – the Bishops asked at point 5 – leave the person in a vulnerable state “alone in his/her decision?”. At point 6, the Declaration warns of a consequence: requesting medical help to die also paves the way for the birth of “specialized death clinics” – as has happened in neighbouring countries. “In light of what has been said – the Bishops concluded -, we call on our fellow citizens and MPs to listen to their consciences and build an ever more fraternal society in France, one in which people take care of one another, both individually and collectively”.

© Riproduzione Riservata


Quotidiano - Italiano


Informativa sulla Privacy