End of life: the future law will have to ensure "traceability from A to Z", according to Firmin Le Bodo

End of life the future law will have to ensure traceability from A to Z, according to Firmin Le Bodo

The future bill opening active assistance in dying will have to ensure "traceability from A to Z" for a priori and a posteriori control, announced Sunday the Minister Delegate, Agnès Firmin Le Bodo, in charge of Territorial Organization and Health Professions, which also wants to be a game changer in palliative care.

"We must ensure traceability from A to Z (...) For medico-legal reasons of course. But also to establish how many people have had access to this new right each year and under what conditions", specifies the minister in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche.

The bill "will include three blocks: active assistance in dying, palliative care and patients' rights", describes the Minister in charge of Territorial Organization and Health Professions who does not decide on what the French model would be between active assistance to die and euthanasia.

"It remains to be defined. What matters is that the supervised possibility of benefiting from active assistance in dying becomes effective, as demanded by 75% of our fellow citizens", explains Ms. Firmin Le Bodo, who therefore imposes herself as the pilot of the reform in place of the Minister of Health François Braun.

After having brought together for several months French people drawn by lot, the Citizens' Convention, which mainly declared itself in favor of opening "active assistance in dying", but under important conditions, President Emmanuel Macron announced that he wanted a new law on end of life "by the end of the summer".

This will be "co-constructed with parliamentarians", promises the government.

In her interview with the JDD, Ms. Firmin Le Bodo recalls the "red lines" set by Mr. Macron: "Minors will be excluded; the vital prognosis of the patient must be committed in the medium term; his will collected on several occasions; his discernment intact".

The notion of the medium term is "at the heart of the work in progress", she adds.

Mrs. Firmin Le Bodo excludes that patients suffering from mental illnesses can have access to it.

“Rather than fixing a list of diseases giving access to active assistance in dying, it would be better to qualify the impact of the pathologies concerned”, advances the minister.

However, it sees two "safeguards": "Doctors and caregivers who do not wish to participate in active assistance in dying will have to be able to invoke a conscience clause from the first stage of the process, when they have to decide on a vital prognosis committed in the medium term. Then, it will be necessary to ensure that the patient has indeed been offered palliative care, "explains the minister.

Finally, on the aspect of palliative care on which the Citizens' Convention particularly insisted, the government is planning "a ten-year plan" which will come into force in 2024.

Mrs. Firmin Le Bodo details a myriad of objectives, including the creation of palliative care units in the 20 departments that do not have them "by the end of 2024", the creation of a dedicated "medical sector" and from 2024, a national pediatric palliative care unit.

These announcements were deemed "worrying" by the French Society for Support and Palliative Care (SFAP).

Very critical, the SFAP, which brings together caregivers, asks in a press release to be received “without delay” and demands that the “administered death” and “palliative care” bills be the subject of two separate bills.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Image credit: Shutterstock/ Joel Bubble Ben

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