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French MPs fail to conclude debate on euthanasia

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Several thousand amendments, tabled in majority by LR deputies, prevented Thursday the final vote of a bill opening a right to “a free and chosen end of life”. The Minister of Health said he was opposed to the opening of a “major debate” on euthanasia in the context of Covid-19.

“Ultimate freedom” against “ethical rupture”. The National Assembly debated on Thursday April 8 euthanasia in a controversial atmosphere. Despite widespread support, MEPs failed to vote on a complete text, due to lack of time in the face of thousands of amendments.

The debate ended shortly after midnight, a rule for days reserved for parliamentary groups to present their own texts.

The examination of the bill opening a right to “a free and chosen end of life” of the deputy Olivier Falorni, of the Freedom and Territories group, has not escaped. With more than 3,000 amendments, most of them intended to counter it, the work did not go beyond article 1.

A vote prevented by amendments from the right

Most of these amendments came from a handful of LR deputies, who led a long guerrilla war making any possibility of a final vote before midnight illusory. Among them, Xavier Breton denounced “an aid to suicide” and the “transgression of a prohibition”.

In the absence of a final ballot in the allotted time, the text still received a broad de facto endorsement during the vote (240 votes for, 48 against and 13 abstentions) at the end of the evening of an amendment by Guillaume Chiche ( ex-LREM, not registered) which took up central points on “medical assistance in dying” or the conscience clause for doctors.

Olivier Falorni welcomed a “strong message”, even if “the obstruction does not allow to go to the end of the text”. The deputy for Charente-Maritime had been greeted in the hemicycle by a thunderous applause from his supporters, present on all the benches.

He castigated the thousands of amendments to his text, symbolically placed in a pile in front of him, aimed at “preventing the Assembly from voting” on the whole of the proposal within the allotted time.

Olivier Véran against a debate on euthanasia because of the Covid-19

Bertrand Pancher, boss of the opposition group Libertés et Territoires, pleaded for this proposal, supported by a large number of elected officials, in particular in the majority as well as in the PS and at La France insoumise, “to be taken up by the government” to lead to a law.

The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, on the other hand, declared himself personally “not convinced that this major debate should be opened today”, citing in particular the heavy context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The debate deserves to take place, there is no doubt” but it “needs time” on such a “sensitive” subject, said the minister.

However, he promised better enforcement of the current law, known as Claeys-Leonetti, which provides for deep and continuous sedation that can lead to death, but without active euthanasia.

With AFP

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