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French commission on euthanasia picks interesting day to submit conclusions

March for Life in Paris demonstrators protest assisted suicide


John Burger - published on 03/03/23

Panel called for by Emmanuel Macron votes to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.

It’s unlikely that the planners of a “citizens’ convention” in France discussing possible changes to the nation’s laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide realize the significance of the date they chose to submit their recommendations to the French government. March 19, the day the convention plans to wrap up, is the Feast of St. Joseph, who, among other titles, is patron of a holy death.

To Catholic observers, there is hardly anything holy about the citizens’ convention, called for by French President Emmanuel Macron. On February 19, a majority of its members voted to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in France. 

Out of 167 citizens present for this vote, 75% voted in favor of opening up access to euthanasia or assisted suicide, reported Hélène de Lauzun of the European Conservative. Only 19% voted against, and 6% abstained. More than two thirds – 67% – voted in favor of opening up euthanasia to minors.

Aleteia’s French edition pointed out a number of problems associated with the citizens’ convention, including the fact that its organization was entrusted to the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, headed by pro-euthanasia activists.

Organizers said they wanted to provide participants with “the most objective and neutral documentary base possible,” but in fact, reading material consisted mostly of works in favor of euthanasia, and none warning of its dangers.

From the very first session in December, experts who spoke to the convention were all in favor of euthanasia. Only one expert, from the Netherlands, expressed serious concerns about the abuses he had observed in his country, but he was in favor of euthanasia nevertheless. 

And there was no effort to give members an upclose look at palliative care, which is often cited as an alternative to assisted suicide or euthanasia. 

Palliative care

Nevertheless, one proposal that received the most votes was one that called for a strengthening of palliative care.

Claire Thoury, president of the Citizens’ Convention Governance Committee, said the group would reconvene in March for a “harmonization phase,” during which more detailed proposals will be formulated and included in the final document to be submitted to the government March 19, Catholic News Agency reported. The document could serve as the basis for the development of a new end-of-life bill.

Reacting to the February 19 vote, philosopher Chantal Delsol wrote in Le Figaro that a change to French laws, which currently ban assisted suicide and euthanasia, would represent a return to Greek and Roman paganism, which “justified and even glorified personal or accompanied suicide. 

“The demand for active euthanasia represents a return to the situation of our distant ancestors,” Delsol wrote. “It is justified by the fact that our contemporaries no longer believe in substantial dignity, which used to respond to a transcendence.”

Said Delsol: “This is a profound rupture in our cultural anthropology, which is reflected and declined in all areas of life, of which assisted suicide is one aspect.”

[Photo above shows demonstrators holding a banner reading “end of life care, not planned death” during the recent March for Life in Paris.]

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