France’s Council of State rejects assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Council of State, the highest administrative court in France, on December 29, 2022, rejected a challenge to France’s assisted suicide law from Switzerland’s Dignitas assisted suicide group. “Dignitas and 50 of its French member launched an initiative to change the law in 2021,”  CNE news reported. “France’s judge rejected two of its requests on December 29.”
 According to CNE news

The organisation [Dignitas]had asked the French Prime Minister and Minister of Health to modify the regulations concerning poisonous substances. It wanted an exception for their use for suicide. However, as the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health refused to do so, Dignitas took them to court. The organisation believed that the refusal was an infringement on the constitution that safeguards the dignity of individuals. The Council of State rejected the request in 2021 already, but Dignitas continued to launch requests.

Now, the Council of State has ruled that European Law does not recognise the right to die with dignity, and thus, France is not obliged to establish a regulation that legalises assisted suicide.

However, the assisted suicide debate is not settled in France.

In September, France’s President Emmanuel Macron stated that he wants to legalize euthanasia. An Associated Press article reported that Macron said in a written statement that a body composed of citizens will work on the issue in the coming months in coordination with health care workers, while local debates are to be organized in French regions.

France’s citizen convention began its deliberations in December.

“France’s national ethics committee recently opened the door to legalizing assisted dying when it released a report favoring it in September,” according to Edie Heipel, reporting for the Catholic News Agency.

“There is a way to ethically apply active assistance in dying, under certain strict conditions with which it seems unacceptable to compromise,” an author for the report told the press, according to RFI.   

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Dignitas’s campaign to legalize assisted suicide succeeded “in other countries, such as Austria and Germany…. Both countries recognised the right to assisted suicide in 2020.”

Editor’s note. This appears on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.