Skip to content

France: second week of debate on bill in National Assembly

Following a process likely to have lasted a year when it is completed, MPs are set to vote on the text of the bill most recently modified by hundreds of members of the public during a Parliamentary Committee. In this most recent phase the wording on the requirement was slightly changed from, “short- or medium-term vital prognosis” which many deemed inapplicable, to “advanced or terminal stage”. While in this new terminology, neurodegenerative diseases are more easily taken into account, this “advanced stage” criterion remains subjective and depends solely on medical opinion.

Psychological suffering is not recognised not are advance directives taken into account and the person of trust does not have legal status.

Health Minister Catherine Vautrin said the government was seeking “an ethical response to the suffering of people at the end of their life.” “It is to parliament’s credit that it takes up the most serious and distressing issues that affect and sometimes torment our society,” she said.

In March, Macron reiterated the need for a law as “there are situations you cannot humanely accept.”

The vote, scheduled for June 11th, does not require MPs to vote along party lines. Thereafter it moves to the Senate.

According to the latest version only French citizens or long-term residents will be allowed to apply for assisted dying. Patients must be over 18, be able to clearly express their wishes and suffer from a condition that limits their life expectancy to the short or medium term. Psychiatric illnesses are specifically ruled out from the bill, as are neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s.