French President Macron Signals Support for MAID legislation

French President Emmanuel Macron

In a signficant development, President Emmanuel Macron elaborated plans to submit legislative proposals for "Aid in Dying" to his Council of Minsisters and to National Assembly as soon as late May.  Subtly avoiding the words "euthanasia" or "assisted suicide", Macron laid out the strict conditions under which his aid in dying proposal would be available: "mentally competent adults with full capacity suffering from an incurable disease causing  intractable physical or ppsychologicial suffering."

Patients suffering from psychiatric illneses or neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers which compromise capacity, would be excluded from the law's ambit.

Macron had two years ago commissioned a 500-person citizens' council to debate the issue and send their recommendations forward; the results were largely in favor of MAID legislation.  Macron has since his inaguration in 2017 hestiated to embrace MAID, but in his interview announcing the intiative to two well-known French daily newspapers from opposite political poles (one Socialist, the other Catholic), Macron explained he had resolved his lingering doubts after hearing from many citizens including national celebrities and felt this legislative approach was in the best intersts of French society and responded to widespread support.

Macron declined to use the word "euthanasia' in his proposal because it connotes someone ending someone else's life with or even without their consent; whereas "assisted suicide", for Macron, is a misnomer because it is an inherent right to end one's life as one wishes.  His preferred term "Aid in Dying" emprhasizes the inovlemernt of the medical community after consultation.

The proposed plan requires a patient to submit their request to a medical "team" which must make an initial review within 48 hours and render a final decision of approval or rejection within 15 days.  That decision is valid for 3 months, during which the patient may either avail themself of the medicine or let the prescription lapse.  It is not clear whether the medicaiton(s) will be orally or intravenously administered.

Macron was unsure how the legislative proposal would fare in the National Assembly, where his party does not hold a majority forcing his Prime Minsiter to form working coalitions with other parties to his left or right.  He also expects some heavywieght press barons to weigh in heavily in the national debate.

France is the only country in western continental Europe which has not recognised the right to MAID:  Spain and Portugal to her south have both enacted legislation; the BeNeLux countries have been pioneers in advancing MAID; and both the German and the Italian Constitutional Courts have recognised the inherent human right to asssited death in their Constitutions.  Switerland has had assisted dying since the 1940s and even allows "suicide tourism."