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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

François Hollande backpedals on the "right to die"

François Hollande didn't actually mention the word, but there's no doubting from what the French president said, that he intends to re-open the debate on euthanasia.

But it's not necessarily in the way he had previously indicated or in line with those who are in favour of a change of in the law to, in their words, allow terminally ill patients to die with dignity.

Hollande was visiting a centre for palliative care in the town of Rueil-Malmaison in the western suburbs of Paris on Tuesday.

François Hollande, Rueil-Malmaison (screenshot BFM TV report)

And it was during his visit that he gave a speech which perhaps indicated that although he was prepared to re-open the debate, he wasn't going to go as far as he had promised in his election manifesto.

Remember Hollande's pledge? It was that, "Each adult in an advanced or terminal phase of an incurable disease...may request, under specific and strictly controlled conditions, to benefit from medical assistance to end his or her life with dignity. "

That was said when running for office.

Now his tone seems to have changed somewhat.

"Can we go further than the current (Leonetti) law?" said Hollande. "A law which already allows those who are terminally ill to refuse treatment they consider unreasonable."

'It's a debate which needs to take place and has to be done with great dignity, avoiding caricature and polemic," Hollande continued, announcing that he was entrusting the former head of national consultative ethics committee, Didier Sicard, with the task of producing a report to find ways of extending palliative care.

All well and good - a debate. But for Jean-Luc Romero, the president of the l'Association pour le droit de mourir dans la dignité (ADMD), it's a sign that Hollande isn't prepared to live up to a promise he had made.

"Producing reports is fine," he said.

"But you don't need yet another report on the ways to go about helping a terminally ill person put an end to their suffering."

"Why doesn't he hold a referendum and actually ask the French what they think about it?"

A missed opportunity for Hollande?

And if he's prepared to change his mind on such an important, if admittedly controversial issue, what about other proposed social reforms such as same-sex marriage and the right for same-sex couples to adopt.

Already draft legislation is reportedly in the pipeline and could be presented to parliament  some time next year.

But could it too ultimately meet the same fate as that of Hollande's apparent U-turn on the right to die with dignity?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry to leave a trivial comment on an article dealing with such a difficult subject.

But has Francois Hollande put on weight again? He seems to have plump cheeks again.

Deidre.

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