France: report recommends permitting doctors to accelerate death for terminally ill

[JURIST] A report [text, PDF, in French] released Tuesday by the French government has recommended that the country permit doctors to "accelerate death" for terminally ill patients seeking doctor-assisted euthanasia. The report will be sent to the National Order of Physicians [official website, in French], France's national council on medical ethics, which will determine the situations [France 24 report] in which it would be appropriate for doctors to aid patients in accelerating death. The new report was produced by senior medical professor Doctor Didier Sicard, who recommended that doctors should be permitted to accelerate death under three circumstances: when patients can or have previously given explicit requests; when the patient is unconscious and the patient's family requests a withdrawal of life-support or nourishment; and when treatment is merely keeping a body in a vegetative state alive. French President Francois Hollande [official website, in French] commissioned the report as a fulfillment of a campaign pledge. France could draft preliminary legislation by June 2013.

The right to die [JURIST news archive] has been a contentious issue around the world. A UK High Court justice decided [JURIST report] in March to let Britian's first right to die case proceed, the first to be allowed in British court. Tony Nicklinson, age 57, suffered a paralyzing stroke and challenged the UK's definition of murder as including seeking medical assistance in committing suicide. The only European countries that allow euthanasia are Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland. In 2011 an Indian high court ruled [JURIST report] passive euthanasia was permitted under certain circumstances. In 2010 a German court ruled [JURIST report] that removing a patient from life support would not be a criminal offense if the patient had previously given consent. In 2009 the Italian president refused to sign [JURIST report] an Italian governmental decree that would stop the euthanasia of comatose women because it would violate the separation of power overturning a previous court ruling. In 200, a proposed bill that would legalize the option of assisted suicide in the UK was set aside by the House of Lords following opposition from the public and two physician groups [JURIST reports].

 

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