For the dignity of all lives

For the dignity of all lives

On Sunday May 21, the Minister Delegate for Health Professions, Agnès Firmin Le Bodo, outlined the framework for the future law on active assistance in dying. Revelations far from reassuring Erwan Cloarec, president of the CNEF, who recalls on this occasion the clear position of the National Council of Evangelicals of France.

IC: Did the minister's speech teach you anything? Have you discovered any new elements on the next bill?

EC: We weren't really surprised by the draft that was made. The directions are fairly consistent with what we expected. It should be noted, however, a few elements that were introduced to reassure, such as the conscience clause which had been requested by the Order of Physicians as well as the refusal to extend the system to minors and people suffering from mental illnesses. Which is quite satisfying.

IC: Enough to be totally reassured about the future?

EC: No, we remain worried and rather skeptical, like what the CCNE said in its 2013 opinion, about the effectiveness of safeguards in a law on the subject. These cautions, these prejudices are totally illusory. It is necessary to be lucid, these criteria will evolve in the more or less long term. This law puts us irremediably on a slippery slope. Opening up active assistance in dying, regardless of the safeguards, is opening up a worrying breach. This is what the evolution of the legislation of neighboring countries teaches us, which has legalized euthanasia for terminally ill patients capable of deciding. In practice, the criteria for eligibility for euthanasia have been extended to vulnerable members of society and to minors.

IC: What role does the CNEF intend to play for the next steps?

EC: We are ready to discuss and work with the government and parliamentarians. On January 4, we already met the Minister and her advisers to present our point of view. We hand-delivered to him our press release "What we believe is right" on the issue and appreciated the quality of the exchanges we had been able to experience. The feeling of listening. We remain available for the rest of the process and will be happy to respond to another hearing.

IC: An additional opportunity to recall your position?

EC: Indeed, and to recall our argument around two main axes: the question of anthropology, that is to say the conception of humanity and the society that we want to defend, and the question of medical ethics , that is to say the conception of care and medicine that we must promote together. On the first point, we would like to recall that what constitutes a person's dignity should never be linked to their living conditions or vary with the loss of their cognitive or physical faculties. On the contrary, the value of a society should be measured by its capacity to protect and surround the weakest rather than to facilitate their disappearance.

And that in no case is it possible to give in to economic pressures, real pressures when we see that mutuals have taken a position in favor of active assistance in dying. Then, we will remind again that it is dangerous to weaken caregivers by putting them in a position to participate in a process that would lead to euthanasia. The hands that heal shouldn't be the hands that kill too, which is why the conscience clause is so important.

Herveline Urcun

Image credit: Shutterstock/Jelena Stanojkovic

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