France Moves Closer to Legally Allowing Terminally Ill People to Take Lethal Medication to End Their Lives

By Jace Dela Cruz

Apr 11, 2024 09:27 AM EDT

France proposed a bill on Wednesday that would allow terminally ill adult patients to take lethal medication as public demands grow for the legalization of medical aid in dying. 

The president of France, Emmanuel Macron (L) arrives before the reception of Aleksandar Vucic, president of Serbia at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France on April 8th, 2024.
(Photo : DANIEL DORKO/Hans Lucas/AFP via Getty Images)

France Introduces a Bill to Allow Lethal Medication for Terminally Ill Patients

According to the Associated Press, such a bill has long been promised by French President Emmanuel Macron. After a Cabinet meeting, Health Minister Catherine Vautrin said that a patient must be over 18, a French citizen, or live in France to be eligible under the proposed measure.

Vautrin noted that a patient must also have a grave and incurable illness, suffer from intolerable and untreatable pain, and seek lethal medication of their own free will that would have to be confirmed by a team of medical professionals.

However, individuals with severe psychiatric conditions or neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease would not qualify.

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Patients in France Should Initiate the Request for Lethal Medication

According to Catherine Vautrin, terminally ill patients would have to initiate the request for lethal medication and undergo a period of reflection before confirming the request.

If approved, a doctor would issue a prescription for the lethal medication, which would be valid for three months. Emmanuel Macron said the patient could take it at home, a nursing home, or a health care facility, with an option to get help from a doctor, a nurse, or someone of their choice, especially if their physical condition does not allow them to do it alone. 

The bill now goes for parliamentary debate. Vautrin emphasized the importance of respectful dialogue and consideration, given that the subjects touch life and death.

Vautrin also announced 1.1 billion euros in new funding for palliative and other end-of-life care. AP reported that many French patients have traveled to neighboring countries where medically assisted suicide or euthanasia is legal. 

Euthanasia is legal in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Colombia under certain conditions, while Switzerland, Portugal, and some US states allow assisted suicide.

READ MORE: Indian Businessman Jumps to His Death From the 19th Floor of a Star Hotel in Bengaluru

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