French panel recommends legalizing assisted suicide


By Dave Andrusko

French President Francois Hollande

French President Francois Hollande

Fulfilling a campaign pledge made by President Francois Hollande to hold a national “debate” on the issue, a public panel of 18 “representative” citizens this week recommended that France legalize assisted suicide. This recommendation flies in the face of opposition from the national ethics committee expressed last summer.

As Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, wrote last July,

“France’s official Ethics Advisory Committee (the Comité Consultatif National d’Ethique, or CCNE) rejected the legalization of assisted suicide after a majority vote. … In a vote made public Monday, July 1, the committee voted against Swiss style assisted suicide, where lethal medication is deliberately given to a patient. This is significant, because when the CCNE voted against euthanasia [in December 2012], it concluded that assisted suicide may be legalized.”

But the so-called “Conference of Citizens” not only recommended legalizing assisted suicide, “it also recommended allowing euthanasia in very specific circumstances, such as when the patient is not able to give his or her direct consent, but ruled out legalising the practice as a whole,” according to the AFP news service.

As is so often the case, impetus to challenge the law came from several high-profile tragedies. In this instance, it was the suicides of two couples in their 80s last month in Paris.

“The 18 ‘sages’ gathered for four consecutive weekends in order to hear officially mandated experts, many of them favorable to at least one form of voluntary ending of life, including Jean-Luc Romero, president of the “Association for the right to die with dignity” (ADMD),” according to Jeanne Smits.

The recommendation came just days after the vote by the Belgium Senate to make it legal to euthanize children (,, and

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