French lawmakers open tense two-week debate on assisted dying

The debate on France's end of life bill begins in the French parliament this Monday with the aim of opening up the possibility of assisted dying for certain patients. But changes introduced by a parliamentary committee have the executive fearing a 'loss of balance' in the proposed text.

To allow adequate time for the debates – which will combine medical technicalities with legal and personal issues – the National Assembly has scheduled two weeks of discussions for the first reading of the bill.

Health Minister Catherine Vautrin will open the arguments at 4pm on Monday, with a final vote on the legislation scheduled for 11 June.

The debate promises to be heated over eligibility criteria, one of which has been amended in committee.

The original text required people to be suffering from a "serious and incurable condition with a short or medium-term life-threatening prognosis," to be of full age, be able to express their wishes freely and in an informed manner, and to be suffering from an illness that is untreatable or unbearable.

'Loophole' fears

However, the deputies in the special committee deleted the reference to "short- or medium-term life-threatening condition," preferring the notion of an "advanced or terminal phase" of illness.

This change was approved by the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity and general rapporteur Olivier Falorni from the centrist MoDem party, who felt that the notion of medium-term "risked leaving out a certain number of patients".

However, most of the support for the legislation is expected to come from the left and the presidential camp.

The debates will also have to clarify the issue of advance directives.

Read more on RFI English

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