For the first time since their installation, at the beginning of December, the 184 participants in the Citizens’ Convention on the end of life debated in public session, Sunday, February 5, on a possible legalization of active assistance in dying in France. If we consider that this assembly, drawn by lot, represents a “France in miniature” representative of the population, we will retain above all from this fifth session (out of nine in total) the confirmation that opinions on this subject are much more shared and subtle than the polls that regularly support a “right to die” suggest.
The day before, the members of the Convention were divided into six groups to discuss, behind closed doors, the four “core points of the debate” identified during the previous sessions: should a right to assistance in dying be granted, and what conditions of access establish? How to organize and frame it? In what form: euthanasia, assisted suicide or both? And, finally, how to ensure full implementation of the current framework? On each of the questions addressed, everyone was then able to choose their favorite sub-group, both to defend their point of view and to question that of the others.
Major trends emerge
Their exchanges give an initial idea of the major trends that emerge, halfway through, within the Convention. To the question “Should we open up access to active assistance in dying?” », 27 participants chose to maintain that no, 41 defended the idea of an openness to any request, 95 considered that this openness should be conditioned and 2 remained undecided. Opinions are also divided on the form that this active assistance in dying should take. A majority – 101 participants – pleaded for authorizing both euthanasia and assisted suicide, 30 are rather in favor of assisted suicide only, 5 support euthanasia only and 25 are opposed to both. devices, while 4 did not adopt a clear-cut opinion.
“But if the participants start to position themselves, this data does not freeze anything. Everyone can still change their mind, says Claire Thoury, president of the governance committee responsible for the count. The objective of this session was not to vote for or against such and such a proposal, but rather that each participant could take ownership of the different points of view”, she specifies.
In this respect, the quality of the exchanges held, for two and a half hours this Sunday, in the hemicycle of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council which organizes the work, is to be underlined. If the bottom did not reserve any great surprise – the arguments and counter-arguments as to a change in the law having been in the public square for a long time – the quality of listening and the respect for the divergent opinions expressed by these citizens anonymous on such a sensitive subject contrasts with the holding of a sometimes chaotic political debate.
But the clock is ticking. Halfway through, the Convention has already listed nearly 346 proposals that remain to be organised, prioritized and decided upon. And it only has four sessions left to give birth to recommendations which must be submitted to the government on March 19.
🟠📽️#FinDeVie : comment @The cross will deal with the debate, @jchapuis
“We are among those who wonder and even worry about the risks of abuse. But we are above all committed to helping everyone, whatever their convictions, to enter into the complexity of the subject.” pic.twitter.com/vRLTTW8R0u
— The Cross (@LaCroix) December 8, 2022
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