The French government has repeatedly stated its determination to change the law to make active assistance in dying, or euthanasia, possible in France. While precautions are being taken to give the appearance of a public debate, the outcome is already clear: euthanasia will pass.
This was explained by Sacha Houlié, MP for Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party and chairman of the National Assembly’s law commission which is behind the new bill to authorise euthanasia. In an interview with the Christian-inspired daily newspaper La Croix, Houlié said that even if a “public convention” on the matter is supposed to be held in the next months, Parliament’s freedom to legislate on ethical matters must be “absolute,” which means that parliamentarians must not feel bound by the public debate that would be unfavourable to decriminalising euthanasia.
To the journalist’s question, “does this mean that if the citizens’ convention says ‘no’ to the legalisation of assisted dying, you reserve the right to do it anyway?,” Sacha Houlié’s answer was unambiguous: “If that were to be the case, then yes, we could still do it.”
There is much to lose in this power grab by the government of Macron, the most important of which are human rights and rule of law. Drawing a parallel with abortion, for which the initial limitations have gradually been abolished, Houlié explains that increasingly liberal developments of the law are quite possible, even inevitable. “When you create a new right, you cannot predict with certainty its future evolution,” he explains. He added: “Our strength is that the rule of law is sufficiently robust to accept new practices,” without, however, defining what “rule of law” actually means in this specific case.
For many, their worst fears for end-of-life care have been justified. The chairman of the Law Commission’s statement explicitly confirms the feeling of those committed to opposing euthanasia and, more broadly, those opposed to the developments of recent years in the field of bioethics: the public debate is not there to guide the decision, but only to ‘inform’ citizens about decisions that have already been validated, and against which they cannot ultimately formulate any objection. The philosopher Emmanuel Hirsch commented in Le Figaro on the so-called citizens’ convention in the following terms: “this is not true consultation. We are dressing up a profound change with a false public debate whose usefulness is hard to identify.”
Mgr. Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French Bishops’ Conference, and Father Hugues de Woillemont, General Secretary, were received on Tuesday, September 27th, at the Élysée by Emmanuel Macron. They reiterated their deep concern about the current project.