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FRENCH Senate debates asssited dying; a first time ever

A bill to legalise assisted dying in France passed the Senate Committee on Social Affairs (25 for, 19 against) to be debated in the French Senate. A first time in France!

The text of the bill put forward by the Committee was the result of three proposals from resp. Jean-Pierre Godefroy (Parti Socialiste), Alain Fouché (UMP) and Francois Autan & Guy Fischer (Parti Communiste).

Jean-Pierre Godefroy stated that “any mature person, in the advanced or terminal phase of a accidental or pathological affliction that is grave or incurable, causing physical or psychological suffering that cannot be relieved and that she judges to be unendurable, can request to receive (…) medical assistance to die.”

Alain Fouché more or less said the same, when he allows that (i> “anyone capable, in an advanced or terminal phase of an illness that is recognized s grave and incurable or placed in a state of dependence that she regards as incompatible with her dignity, can ask to receive (…) medical assistance to die.”

The debate took place in the Senate on 25th January 201, starting at 10pm and lasting until 2.30am when a vote was taken.

During the debate about 110 senators were present in the chamber but it is noteworthy that by 3am 312 senators cast their vote (of a total of 337 members of the Senate). In the end there were 142 votes in favour and 170 votes against the motion.

Frequent mention was made in the debate of ‘concitoyens’ (fellow citizens) and ‘la liberté’. The ultimate liberty of the citizen, like personal autonomy in our parlance, was cited by both sides.Supporters of medically assisted death viewed the freedom to decide on the timing of one’s own death as the ultimate freedom whereas opponents spoke of the duty of the State to protect the liberty of citizens from a medical death.


(thanks to Jacqueline and