France moves towards legal euthanasia

Is France about to legalise assisted dying?

Image of an elderly patient in care. Credit: Chinnapong/

Could there be a change in the air for France’s approach to end-of-life care?

On Wednesday, April 10, a pivotal step was taken by the French Government towards reforming civil rights during Emmanuel Macron’s second term.

The Macron Administration put forth a bill to the Council of Ministers aiming to legalise euthanasia under strict conditions.

If the proposal is successful it will position France as the seventh European nation to embrace euthanasia, joining the ranks of Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Luxembourg.

New ‘end-of-life’ care

Termed as the ‘end of life’ law, the proposal aims to grant individuals suffering from incurable ailments the choice to end their suffering through a lethal means, as stated by Catherine Vautrin, the Minister of Labour and Health, in a post-meeting press conference.

The initiative marks a significant leap from the 2016 Claeys-Leonetti law, which only allowed deep and continuous sedation until the death of the patient.

The proposed legislation is designed to cater to French residents facing a dire prognosis in the foreseeable future and enduring ‘unbearable physical or psychological suffering.’

The process will involve rigorous scrutiny by multiple doctors, without listing specific diseases eligible for assisted dying, except for a clear exclusion of degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Similarities to Spanish legislation

The method of euthanasia will offer a choice between self-administration of the drug or application by a certified doctor for those unable to do so themselves, mirroring Spain’s model where euthanasia has been legal since 2021.

Interestingly, Spain saw nearly 300 individuals opt for this route in 2022, representing a  fraction of the country’s total deaths.

Accompanying this bill is a commitment to bolster palliative care funding, raising it from the current €1.6 billion to €2.7 billion, reflecting a significant portion of the population’s needs compared to the few opting for euthanasia.

Steering clear of the euthanasia label

Despite the clear direction towards legalising euthanasia, the French government hesitates to use the term directly.

As reported by Periodico de España, Catherine Vautrin emphasised the importance of consent in the proposed law, stating, ‘Why don’t we talk about euthanasia? Because euthanasia consists of killing someone with or without their consent. And in this text, obviously, there is total consent.’

Public opinion in France shows robust support for legalising euthanasia, with up to 82 per cent backing the initiative.

However, opposition from the French Church and conservative Catholic demographics presents a challenge, reflected by Macron’s cautious approach to the issue.

The bill is scheduled for discussion in the French National Assembly on May 27, where it is anticipated to gain substantial support.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.