January 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While the French Senate was debating the legalization of euthanasia in Paris today, the “Alliance pour les droits de la vie” (ADV, Alliance for the rights of life) organized a theatrical demonstration to attract media attention to the realities of so-called “mercy-killing.”
Hundreds of volunteers massed in front of the historic Palais du Luxembourg, built in the beginning of the 17th century for Marie de Médicis, wife of Henri IV, which houses the French upper chamber.
The choreographed protest involved 700 demonstrators who were “killed” and placed in white body bags on the ground by one by several dozen “doctors” wearing green surgeon’s coats, masks and boots, and latex gloves. After this “Death” moved through the silent rows of perfectly immobile victims, making sure they had been properly “killed.”
The ADV said it wanted to show the openness to abuse of euthanasia laws: while they are presented as an exceptional solution for a few extreme cases, said ADV, they will end up with hundreds and thousands of victims in societies where experts are already calculating the “excessive health costs” incurred during the “last two years of life.”
The scene was played three times between 12:45 and 1:30 pm. local time. While the players – men and women of all ages – were lying “dead,” Tugdual Derville, spokesman for the ADV, called on the French Senate not to legalize euthanasia, arguing that it is never a solution for human suffering, but a way to deny ill, suffering and handicapped people their human dignity.
Derville also called for increased public support, financial and otherwise, for palliative care and for all the volunteers who help to make it possible. At the same time he pointed out that ADV is opposed to “overtreatment,” or intensive care which tends to prolong life beyond its natural course in an overly aggressive manner.
“Euthanasia is legal in some countries, but that doesn’t mean those countries are ahead of us,” he said. “In Belgium and the Netherlands, people are already being killed because they are depressed: that goes straight against our medical culture which makes emergency doctors fight for the lives of patients who attempt to commit suicide and try to help them.”
A statement by anti-euthanasia activist Maryannick Pavageau, calling for the right to life, was read by her husband. Pavageau can only move two fingers to use her computer after a cerebral accident at the age of 29, which left her with a “locked-in syndrome.” In October of last year she was awarded the “Légion d’honneur” (Legion of Honor) for her ongoing fight against euthanasia.
Pavageau was present at the event in her wheelchair.
ADV said it chose the theatrical form of protest in order to create a media buzz to promote the message: “Nursing is not killing.”
At the end of the event, several of the volunteers said that lying on the street in the cold, and seeing only the dense grey clouds of a wintry Paris day, was in itself a profound experience.
“I thought of all the people who lie in hospital, unable to move, days on end. And of my own death, when it comes,” said one.
“Certainly many of the demonstrators were praying while they were lying on the street: I was,” said another young woman.
Meanwhile the French Senate commission, which voted in favor of a pro-euthanasia bill last week, on Tuesday retracted its vote. The Senate is now expected to adopt amendments rejecting the bill. However, the ADV and other pro-life groups are warning that the euthanasia lobby will not stop its efforts to make killing of the ill and suffering legal, all the more so because opinion polls show a majority of French people are now in favor of euthanasia.