French President Emmanuel Macron has given an interview to the newspapers Libération and La Croix in which he commented that he is preparing a bill to legalize euthanasia that will be presented in April to the French parliament.

Although Macron intends for it to be called neither the euthanasia law nor the assisted suicide law, these are the practices that he wants to legalize, although he uses the euphemism “aid in dying” to refer to them.

“Aid in dying” may be applied if the person meets the following requirements: 1) be an adult; 2) have complete discernment, that is, not suffer from Alzheimer’s or another neurodegenerative or psychiatric disease; 3) suffer from a serious incurable illness; 4) that his physical or mental suffering cannot be alleviated.

Macron has also promised to invest €1 billion over 10 years and create palliative care units in the 21 French departments that do not have them.

As we already published in the Bioethics Observatory in 2023, thirteen organizations representing 800,000 healthcare workers were against the promotion of the euthanasia law in France and published the document “Can causing death be considered care?”, but their opinion has been ignored. However, what has been taken into account is the opinion expressed in a survey by 184 randomly chosen citizens, who are mostly in favor of euthanasia.

In a recent interview with Julio Tudela, director of the UCV Bioethics Observatory, on the 13TV Ecclesia program, he stated that when a country passes a law on euthanasia, numerous restrictions are proposed. But, as time goes by, these measures relax and a slippery slope is created that ends up facilitating their application to all types of people, sick or not, or even, as is the case in Belgium, to the elderly who have not requested it.

The spirit that inspires laws like this or that on abortion is based on considering certain human lives as second class, devalued for being vulnerable. This utilitarian mentality determines that there are “lives unworthy of being lived”, such as that of the embryo, that of the dependent or that of the one who asks to die. This expression was popularized in Nazi Germany on the eve of the application of its “final law” of extermination of, first, the sick and disabled, and then, Jews, gypsies, etc.

Tudela has also compared the French euthanasia law with the Spanish one, and has explained the differences that exist, such as that in Spain euthanasia can be applied to the mentally ill and in France it cannot. In Spain the reflection period between the moment the patient requests euthanasia and the moment the request is approved is shorter than in the French case, which will be longer.

Furthermore, while in Spain nothing is done to promote palliative care, which is what truly dignifies the end of life, in France, in parallel with the processing of the euthanasia law, initiatives for its implementation are being announced.

As Tudela states, “aid in dying is a euphemism, it is about killing,” as is referring to abortion as sexual and reproductive health.

Julio Tudela and Ester Bosch

Bioethics Observatory – Institute of Life Sciences

Catholic University of Valencia

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