The country is expected to announce its decision in March 2023.
If it legalizes the measure, France would join a growing list of other European countries that provide assisted suicide in some form: Germany, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.
Additionally, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Austria allow passive euthanasia or withdrawing basic life-sustaining care from patients to hasten death, such as nutrition and water to cause starvation and dehydration.
Along with France, Portugal and Ireland are currently debating assisted dying measures.
Rita Marker is the executive director of the Patients’ Rights Council, a nonprofit that keeps people informed about assisted suicide laws around the world and offers help with paperwork for advance medical directives.
“It’s the push of all of these countries to try and legalize — to transform — the crime of assisted suicide and euthanasia into a medical treatment,” Marker told CNA.
Marker believes people need to keep up to date on what’s happening with assisted suicide laws.
“It will affect absolutely everyone,” she said. “In Canada, they’re even talking about euthanizing infants now. Once you transform those crimes into medical treatments, [they will] keep expanding them.”
Euthanasia legislation would ‘target’ disabled people
The Catholic Church teaches that euthanasia is “a crime against human life.”
“The Church is convinced of the necessity to reaffirm as definitive teaching that euthanasia is a crime against human life because, in this act, one chooses directly to cause the death of another innocent human being,” a 2020 document put out by the Vatican on the issue reads.
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Pope Francis also warned Macron and French officials in an audience Oct. 21 about the decision to take up the debate to legalize euthanasia.
“I dare to hope that on such essential issues, the debate can be made in truth to accompany life until its natural end,” Francis said to the audience, urging for palliative care instead of euthanasia.
Not Dead Yet, a U.S. grassroots disability rights group that opposes the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia, condemned France’s decision.
“Not Dead Yet disagrees with France’s ethics commission that there is a ‘path towards an ethical application of assisted dying,’” John B. Kelly, a spokesman for the organization, told CNA.
Kelly is also the director of Second Thoughts MA, a Massachusetts-based grassroots group of disability rights advocates that opposes the legalization of assisted suicide because it is a “deadly form of discrimination against disabled people.”
“Despite the rhetoric of reducing suffering, assisted suicide targets disabled people for early death because of our dependence on others for assistance. Disabled people deserve the same level of suicide prevention services as everyone else,” Kelly added.