France is edging closer to legalising some forms of euthanasia. On November 30 the National Assembly passed a law which attempts to clarify the situation of terminally ill and dying patients in the wake of the furore over a paralysed young man killed by his mother and a doctor last year. The bill still has to be ratified by the Senate. The new legislation allows dying patients to refuse burdensome treatment and also allows seriously disabled patients who are not terminally ill to request an end to their treatment. Doctors will be allowed to give increasingly stronger painkillers, even at the risk of shortening a patient’s life. Patients in a vegetative state may also have their life support stopped (including, it seems, hydration and nutrition). If they have an infection or a life-threatening complication, it will not be treated, as it will be regarded as disproportionate to the benefit. The law also stipulates that living wills must be respected.
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