At the end of life, “Where the government remains static, Parliament advances”. This formula of the Socialist Senator Marie-Pierre de La Gontrie is not inaccurate. Because, with no less than four bills on the table, pro-euthanasia parliamentarians are clearly on the offensive. The senator’s text will be the first to be examined, this Thursday, March 11 in the Senate, pending a similar text from deputy Olivier Falorni (Freedoms and Territories), scheduled at the National Assembly on April 8. The Macronist camp is also trying to impose this debate through a bill by Jean-Louis Touraine, supported by more than 160 deputies (including the majority of LREM).
→ ANALYSIS. A pro-euthanasia offensive in Parliament
However, the executive shows little enthusiasm at the idea of reopening this file, just over a year from the presidential election. The head of LREM deputies, Christophe Castaner, has not yet received a response to his letter sent in early March to Jean Castex, requesting a meeting to find out the government’s position. Solicited on several occasions by The cross, Matignon successively indicated that the subject would be discussed during a meeting between Jean Castex and the majority on Tuesday March 2, then during another meeting on Monday March 8. It did not happen.
→ EDITORIAL. Against euthanasia
” Opinions are divided. The majority of French people seem to be waiting for an evolution on this subject. The question is whether the period is the right time to tackle such a social issue. So, no arbitration at this stage ”, summarizes a framework of the majority.
The unfavorable Modem, LREM deputies divided on the calendar
Opinions diverge, particularly among LREM’s allies. Nine of the 21 deputies of the Agir ensemble group co-signed the text of Jean-Louis Touraine, and their president, Olivier Becht, considers that it would be “A good thing to try to formalize a position of the majority”. On the other hand, Patrick Mignola, head of the MoDem group, is “Unfavorable to return to a new societal subject which could further divide the French”. “After abortion and bioethics, that would do a lot in an already anxiety-provoking period, he insists. In the last year of the legislature, we do not open subjects that require a calm and in-depth public debate. “
At LREM, “Some are pushing for it to be on the parliamentary agenda as early as May, others want to make it a subject of debate for the presidential campaign”, explains the deputy and spokesperson, Roland Lescure. The author of the text, Jean-Louis Touraine, is in the first category. “If we procrastinated more, it would be considered a fault”, he says to The cross.
→ INVESTIGATION. End of life, better known devices
He intends to mark the occasion by voting in April the proposal of Olivier Falorni “After having amended it”. Because differences exist between the texts: that of Jean-Louis Touraine (like that of the deputy LR Marine Brenier) proposes to develop access to palliative care in parallel with active assistance in dying, while that of Olivier Falorni extends euthanasia to mental suffering.
In government, divergent individual positions
In Christophe Castaner’s entourage, we expect an unfavorable opinion from the Prime Minister, at least in the short term. The Minister of Relations with Parliament, Marc Fesneau, spoke in this direction on Sud Radio at the end of January. “These are debates that require time, each one refers to his experience, his beliefs, his emotion, he declared then. One year from the presidential deadline, (…) I’m not sure we need to fracture society. “
For the time being, apart from questions of calendar and political expediency, no one in the majority or in the government has opposed euthanasia in substance. On the other hand, several members of the government are openly favorable to him. Five of them had signed, in 2017, a first bill by Jean-Louis Touraine on the subject when they were deputies: Olivier Dussopt, Olivia Grégoire, Brigitte Bourguignon, Bérangère Abba and Joël Giraud.
→ ANALYSIS. A platform to help approach the end of life with children
The latter was also impatient on Twitter on March 4, about the death by assisted suicide of the former Secretary of State Paulette Guinchard: “His final decision invites us to reflect on the right to choose his death with dignity and freedom. Let’s have this debate, let’s open this debate! ” Which side will the government lean on? The answer could come during the examination of the Socialist bill in the Senate on Thursday.
A priority for the French?
Activists and opponents of euthanasia clash on the ground of the polls, each intending to prove that the subject is or not an expectation of the French. But the results vary widely depending on the turn of the questions.
For several years, supporters of euthanasia can rely on polls strongly in favor of its legalization. The most recent, an Ipsos poll to Read the Policy from April 2019, gives 96% favorable opinions.
Opponents situate the question on a personal level, and not at the level of the law. Thus, the group Relieve but not kill unveiled Tuesday, March 9 an Ifop study asking respondents to rank their priorities regarding their own end of life. “To be able to obtain euthanasia” is cited by only 24% of them.