March 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A pro-life event made the national news on French television Saturday evening when “Alliance Vita” organized a giant flashmob against euthanasia on the “Parvis des droits de l’homme” (“Human Rights Square”) at the Trocadéro in Paris. Seven hundred people, young and old, holding red hearts with the slogan “Caring, not killing,” filled the esplanade facing the Eiffel Tower and danced to the sounds of Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die.
The secret of the demonstration was carefully kept, with friends calling trusted friends to join the mystery event that was scheduled to coincide with a public demonstration in favor of euthanasia organized by the “Association for the right to death with dignity” (ADMD). Hundreds showed up on Saturday morning in time to don clown’s paint, a red nose and white coverings reminiscent of body bags before the press arrived at 12:15.
Participants danced in perfect coordination, turning to show the other side of their paper hearts bearing the words: “Solidarity with those who are the most fragile,” after which they lay on the ground to symbolize victims of euthanasia.
Why clowns? Because the pro-euthanasia event was being held in the famous Parisian “Cirque d’Hiver,” the covered “winter circus,” where well-loved troupes have held their shows in the cold season since 1852. Organizers of the protest said that it symbolized all the venue’s sad clowns who love life and children’s laughter joining together to warn the public about the evil of so-called “mercy killing.”
Red-nosed clowns are also familiar figures in French hospitals where volunteers dress up to visit children’s wards to cheer, help and console gravely ill little patients.
“Alliance Vita’s” president is Dr. Xavier Mirabel, an oncologist and father of a child with Down’s syndrome who has played a major role in helping pass a law in 2002 that prohibits gaining direct compensation for “wrongful birth” in France. During the rally at the Trocadéro on Saturday, he called on the French people resist euthanasia, a practice in which doctors and health care workers no longer perform their proper role of giving care, support and consolation to the aged and the suffering.
The originality of the demonstration made for wide media attention: none of the national and regional press reported on the “mainstream” pro-euthanasia rally without referring to the pro-life counter-event.
“Alliance Vita” is holding a fifty-city tour in France from March 5th to May 4th, during which the association’s permanent members are holding talks, conferences and debates to inform the population about the temptation of euthanasia.
Caroline Roux, who coordinates “Alliance Vita’s” hotlines and supportive websites for crisis pregnancies and questions surrounding the end of life, told LifeSiteNews that the initiative is proving successful.
The so-called “Tour de France” and its Parisian highlight are being held at the same time as the official presidential campaign, which moved into high gear at the beginning of the month in the leadup to the two rounds of voting on April 22nd and May 6th.
While “Alliance Vita” claims no political or religious affiliation, it has clearly taken a stand against socialist candidate François Hollande’s 21st proposition that seriously or terminally ill patients who are suffering unbearably in mind or body should be allowed to ask for “medical help to end their life with dignity.” Hollande has claimed that this would not amount to euthanasia or to decriminalizing mercy killing, a claim that has been rejected by “Alliance vita.”
As things stand a new official bid to make euthanasia legal has been registered with the French Senate whose liberal majority can be counted on to favor anti-life measures. If the left takes over the presidency and the National Assembly in the upcoming elections, legalization of euthanasia could follow quite soon.
In the wake of the ADMD’s rally on Saturday, two more presidential candidates have effectively proclaimed their support for euthanasia or assisted suicide: the leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the ecologist Eva Joly. They were both present at the Cirque d’Hiver, as was Bertrand Delanoë, the socialist mayor of Paris who made his coming-out as a homosexual on French television in 1998.
Nicolas Sarkozy, Marine Le Pen and François Bayrou have made their opposition to euthanasia known, judging the current law (“loi Leonetti”) to be sufficient. The “loi Leonetti” favors palliative care and makes a distinction between deliberate killing and acts that alleviate suffering at the risk of hastening death but without aiming for it. However, it does allow withdrawal of food or feeding tubes in view of obtaining death for patients who are gravely ill and without hope of recovery.
For more photos of the protest on the French blog of Jeanne Smits, click here.