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Legal change

A bill which would give terminally ill patients the right to demand an end to treatment, including artificial feeding, was passed in France. Passive euthanasia would thus be authorized; active euthanasia would remain illegal. Doctors will be able to switch off life-support machines “if these extend life artificially” without fear of prosecution.

For example, doctors would be able to prescribe painkillers even when this “might bring about death as a secondary effect”; a limit would be set on unreasonable persistence in continuing treatment; doctors would have a duty to respect the wishes of patients; a living will would apply even if a patient is unconscious but only if it was made within three years of implementation; otherwise the decision would rest with family plus medical teams.

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