February 24, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - France’s socialist opposition candidate for the nation’s presidential elections in April seems to be backing off from his stated position in favor of legalizing euthanasia, after his opponents attacked his position.
On Saturday, Socialist and Radical Left Party candidate Francois Hollande gave an interview to the French magazine Marianne, claiming that he is now “not favorable” to the legalization of euthanasia. However, he added that he is “for the right to die with dignity.”
“Today, there are 10,000 to 15,000 beds for palliative care, and there is a need for twice that,” said Hollande on Saturday. “When should one decide to end palliative care or not, even if it does reduce suffering? It is necessary to have the expression of the person, of the family, of doctors who must be consulted and at that moment, in some very rare cases, we are talking about an act of compassion that will relieve not the family, but the person.”
Hollande’s words seem to debilitate the position expressed in his campaign platform, which states in “proposition 21” that “all adults in the advanced or terminal phase of an incurable illness, provoking unbearable physical or psychic suffering, and that can not be alleviated, can request, within precise and strict conditions, to receive medical assistance to end their life with dignity.”
Jean Leonetti, the author of France’s current end-of-life law, blasted Hollande’s “vague” new language on the subject.
“It is a serious and complex subject regarding which one cannot be permitted to be vague,” said Leonetti in an interview with Le Figaro. “We are talking about life and death. Being vague is a blameworthy attitude.”
“We’re talking about injecting a deadly product into patients. It’s necessary to say so clearly. ‘To name things badly, is to increase evil in the world,’ Albert Camus said. Francois Holland wants to send out two signals: to simultaneously reassure both those who work for the development of palliative care, as well as the ADMD (Association for the Right to Die with Dignity). It’s not coherent. It’s dishonest,” Leonetti said.
Legalizing euthanasia is “a false good idea” added Leonetti, who noted that Hollande’s proposal seems to be based on the Netherland’s notorious euthanasia regime. “Who will be these experts who have the right to life or death over patients? What criteria would their decisions depend on? This situation would be against our democracy and our values.”
Leonetti’s end-of-life Law, passed in 2005, provides for palliative care for patients, enabling them to have access to pain relief when their suffering becomes extreme. It does not permit euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Two attempts to legalize euthanasia in the last three years have been roundly defeated in the French Parliament, one by the Senate in 2011 and another by the lower house, the National Assembly, in 2009.
Hollande’s principal opponent, President Nicolas Sarkozy, opposes changes in the current law.
“Legalized euthanasia risks leading us to dangerous extremes and would be against our conception of the dignity of human beings,” he told Le Figaro in February. “The Leonetti law is perfectly balanced, and establishes a principle, one which respects life.”