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A panel of French citizens recently recommended that the Government of France legalize assisted suicide and a limited form of euthanasia. The panel of 18 French citizens were chosen by a commercial polling firm to examine the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The decision of the panel of citizens supports the campaign promise made by French President François Hollande during the last election, but it contradicts the position of France's official Comité Consultatif National d'Ethique (CCNE).

In December 2012 the CCNE in France examined the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide and concluded that assisted suicide may be legalized but euthanasia must not be legalized. The CCNE report stated that euthanasia:

a radical medical gesture that crossed “a forbidden barrier” – and was both impractical and immoral

On July 1, 2013 the CCNE rejected the legalization of Swiss style assisted suicide. President Hollande responded to the CCNE recommendation by stating he would legalize assisted suicide anyway.

The French Senate defeated a euthanasia bill in January 2011 by 170 to 142. 

In January 2012, national polling in France found that the majority of the French people wanted improvements to palliative care rather than legalizing euthanasia.

Over the past few years, a strong opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide has been built with several of the leaders of this group becoming active in EPC – Europe.

There have also been several very successful rallies opposing euthanasia in France.

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I predict that President Hollande will face significant opposition to the legalization of euthanasia and I hope that he is politically forced to back-off from his plans.

Reprinted with permission from Alex Schadenberg

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