Wide spectrum opposes euthanasia bill as French parliament opens debate

Some left-wing deputies joined conservative voices in opposing euthanasia as France’s parliament started debating a deeply controversial right-to-die bill backed by President Emmanuel Macron.

The bill is facing stiff opposition from religious leaders as well as many health workers. While most left-leaning deputies and Macron allies back the legislation, some of them said they would be voting against. Communist MP Andre Chassaigne whose brother, suffering from pancreatic cancer, killed himself, has said he could not back a law that allowed “killing.”

All parties’ parliamentary leaders have said that they will not pressure their MPs to follow the party line.

Macron has insisted that any authorization to choose death should be limited to people with incurable illnesses and intense pain. Only people over 18 and able to clearly express their wishes and suffer from a condition that limits their life expectancy to the short or medium term. Psychiatric illnesses are specifically ruled out from the bill, as are neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s.

One key question is whether patients who are no longer able to trigger the protocol to end their life by themselves can be euthanised by qualified personnel.