End of life accompaniment: applying the law and not legalising euthanasia

Publié le 28 Feb, 2007

The euthanasia lobby


On last 15 March, after a highly publicized trial, the Court of Assizes of Dordogne condemned a doctor to one year suspended prison and discharged a nurse. Sued for euthanasia by injection of lethal substance to a terminally ill patient with cancer, the doctor Laurence Tramois and the nurse Chantal Chanel, have benefited from the support of the Association for the right to die in dignity (ADMD). On the eve of a major electoral date, the acts of the current lobbying in favour of depenalisation of euthanasia may be compared to those which led to the legalisation of abortion in 75. The “manifest of the 2,000 caregivers” declaring they helped patients to die with decency reminds the one of the “343 bitches” who in 1971 stated they practiced illegal abortions, which open the way to the debate on abortion and its depenalisation, ultra publicized trials in both cases, a hostage taking of the reason by the compassion terrorism, etc.


Euthanasia in campaign


The debate on euthanasia is in campaign. For Ségolène Royal, “a legalisation must be set up enabling to soothe the most intolerable pains” and seizing the Parliament with a “Vincent Humbert bill”. Nicolas Sarkozy talked about a possible legalisation of euthanasia because “we cannot stay with our arms dangling faced with the pain of one of our compatriots who calls for end”. However, at the end of March, Nicolas Sarkozy is against a law on euthanasia and prefers to be confident in dialog between doctors and families.


Emergency in relieving pain


The supporters of a law on euthanasia call for the intolerable pain of end of life patient whereas the law aimed at relieving this pain already exists. “The texts outline perfectly the end of life and if cases of intolerable pain are reported, this shows the law is not applied everywhere”. Marie de Hennezel, psychologist and author, suggests the candidates first commit themselves to applying these good practices of end of life, to making obligatory the training of doctors for palliative cares, to financing psychologist to support doctors and to making possible the accompaniment leave foreseen by the law of 9 June 1999.


Towards a two-speed death?


Without these measures, Marie de Hennezel explains that we are going towards a two-speed death: from one hand, recurring to palliative cares in which end of life will be calmed; from the other, proposing no other issue than asking for death to relieve pain. “Only 700 beds can welcome patients with palliative cares whereas at least 10,000 people should benefit from”, she adds.


Applying Leonetti law


According to Leonetti law of 22 April 2005, “acts of prevention, investigation and care must not be done by an unreasonable obstinacy. When they appear to be useless, disproportioned or having no other effect than artificially maintaining life, they can be stopped or not undertaken”. When voting this law, the government announced the opening of 1990 additional beds for palliative cares and the creation of 35 new mobile units in 2005. We are still waiting for them.

Today the emergency is to give us the means to apply this law.

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