September 27, 2022

French doctors endorse euthanasia

France’s peak medical body, the Conseil national de l’ordre des médecins (CNOM, the national council of the college of physicians) has endorsed euthanasia. This marks the first time that a French medical body has taken this step.

The decision was supported by a telephone survey of 605 French doctors which showed that 60% were in favour of active euthanasia.

Although critics suggest that the CNOM has crossed a Rubicon, it attempts to limit euthanasia – which it calls “assisted death” – to situations in which patients are suffering prolonged and uncontrollable psychological or physical pain. Such extreme cases, it claims, are not envisaged in the so-called 2005 Leonetti Law which currently regulates end-of-life issues in France.

In these situations, when patients have clearly and repeatedly requested doctors to end their lives, the CNOM says that doctors have a “devoir d’humanité” “a duty to humanity”. The appropriate response should be “suitable, deep and terminal sedation”.

The CNOM says that a euthanasia law ought to make provision for conscientious objection.

President François Hollande plans to table end-of-life legislation in June. 

MIchael Cook
Creative commons
euthanasia
France