The French senate has rejected a bill that would legalise ‘deep sedation’ – known as passive euthanasia by critics – of patients with a terminal and incurable illness.
The bill, passed by a significant majority in the legislative assembly in March, would allow doctors to put patients into an irreversible comatose state and withdraw life-sustaining treatment. The bill goes even further, stipulating that doctors would be obliged to follow end-of-life instructions from patients regarding terminal sedation and stopping treatments if they agree the practices wouldn't improve their condition.
Unlike the lower house, the senate was overwhelmingly against the bill, voting it down 196-87.
Les Républicains (LR) senators attempted to attenuate the bill (removing the clause “continue until death”) and have it passed, but a majority of left and centrist senators rejected the altered bill.
It will now return to the legislative assembly for a second reading. Minister of Social Affairs and Health Marisol Touraine said she is hopeful the lower house can draft a more palatable revised bill for the senate.
“The Senate’s overwhelming rejection is good news for ethical medicine–at least for now”, wrote bioethicist Wesley Smith.
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