French presidential candidate backs euthanasia

The left-wing candidate in the French presidential election has strongly endorsed the legalisation of euthanasia if he is elected. François Hollande, a Socialist, who will face the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, recently revived France’s simmering  euthanasia debate.

"I propose that all adults in an advanced or terminal phase of an incurable disease, which is causing unbearable physical or psychological suffering and cannot be treated, may request, under specific and strict conditions, medical assistance to end their life with dignity. "

A spokesman told Reuters that the exact protocols had not been worked out yet. "We believe that a person who is terminally ill and experiencing intense physical and psychological suffering must receive active assistance to die, but it must be very strictly regulated," she said.

Euthanasia has been fiercely debated in France. In January last year the Senate rejected a bill put forward by M. Hollande. President Sarkozy is firmly opposed. The current Prime Minister, François Fillon, pointed out in last year's debate that working out the exact protocols was devilishly difficult:

“This scheme does not offer the necessary guarantees. The proliferation of definitions of the end of life and procedures introduces ambiguities and sources of legal uncertainty. The implementation of the act of euthanasia is itself surrounded by conditions that are imprecise.”

The first round of the French election will take place on April 22.  Le Monde, Jan 27

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