Published on April 02, 2023 at 1:52 p.m.
It took four months and more than 27 meetings for the 184 citizens of the citizens’ convention to agree on a report on the end of life. 92% of them are in favor of “profound changes” to better support end-of-life patients. A first step towards active assistance in dying, which does not meet with unanimity.
Elisabeth Borne had asked them to discuss this question: “Is the end-of-life support framework adapted to the different situations encountered or should any changes be introduced? After several months of debate, they came to the conclusion that the framework was not suitable and that France suffered from inequality in access to care. They made 146 proposals to the government.
According to them, it is necessary to come out in favor of “a guarantee of access to palliative care”, which is not the case at the moment. They are also asking for a budget to be allocated to end-of-life and palliative care, the amount of which has not been sufficient in view of the ambitions in this field until now.
They also ask that communication and the human relationship be placed at the center of the patient-doctor relationship. Indeed, according to them, it is necessary to “respect the choice and the will of the patient”. To do this, they suggest that medical students do an internship in palliative care during their studies, in order to be better trained on these topics.
76% of citizens are in favor of active assistance in dying
Regarding the delicate issue of assisted dying, they were 76% in favor of this measure. It would make it possible to better respond to patients’ end-of-life situations and to respect the choices of some. 23% of them believe that the current framework is sufficient and fear abuses, in the event that assisted dying becomes legal in France.
Thus, they consider a number of conditions for access to assisted suicide or euthanasia. The patient wishing to benefit from it will have to formulate his request several times, carry out an evaluation of his discernment and comply with the decision of a “collegial and multidisciplinary procedure”. Caregivers could also refuse to take part, under the pretext of a “conscience clause”.
The criteria for access to this type of procedure remain subject to debate. The justification of an incurable situation and physical pain that cannot be relieved by medical treatment seem to be the main criteria used. In the case of a committed vital prognosis, the question of the short, medium or long term would arise.
Their report will be presented to the President on Monday morning. They say they want to “feed the thinking of the public authorities” on this major societal theme.