France appears set to legalise assisted suicide but will delay the presentation of its new end-of-life bill until after Pope Francis visits Marseille this week. Source: The Tablet.
Originally planned for early this month, the bill is due to include “active aid to die”. Exact details have not yet been revealed, but the long debate about end-of-life care suggests this will allow people to help others end their lives.
Due to Church opposition to any kind of assisted death, the French Government apparently deemed it better to delay revealing these details until after the Pope’s visit on Thursday and Friday. Pope Francis will close a meeting of bishops from the Mediterranean region in Marseille and celebrates a public Mass there.
Pressure to liberalise end-of-life care in France has mounted ever since Belgium and the Netherlands legalised assisted suicide in 2002.
Since then, France’s other continental neighbours have liberalised their laws. Switzerland even allows non-resident foreigners to be helped to die.
Opinion polls show a majority in France favouring some narrowly defined aid to end one’s life but the present law allows “deep sedation” at most to numb pain before death. Opponents say the options of palliative care for the dying are little known and underused.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has close ties to the Pope, will greet Francis on arrival and then leave. The pontiff emphasised last month that he was “going to Marseille but not to France”.
France postpones assisted dying bill until after papal stopover (By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet)