French Bishops seek clarification on "allow to die" law

France's bishops have asked the authorities to clarify the "ambiguities" of a law that establishes the right "to allow to die."

catholicireland.net reports that a statement signed by Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard, president of the French episcopal conference, explained that the legislative text "provides, on one hand, juridical recognition of the right of all patients to reject treatments, including care proposed to them, if this is really their will, and, on the other, the legitimacy to put an end to treatments that have become inappropriate."

"Although these objectives are acceptable, ambiguities remain, however, that are necessary to eliminate," said the Archbishop of Bordeaux.

"Much will depend on the way that this law is interpreted and applied by the doctors," the statement said. "Therefore, it is hoped that the competent authorities will see to it that rules of an appropriate medical practice are established in such delicate matters."

When presenting the law on Wednesday, Health Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said: "While I am minister, I will reject euthanasia." When the law was voted on, the Socialist and Communist Senators left the chamber in sign of protest.

The law allows doctors to stop giving medical assistance when it seems useless, disproportionate or has no other effect other than maintaining life artificially.

The draft bill says terminally ill patients should have the right to ask for treatment to be stopped, even if this leads to death, and doctors should respect their wishes after verification with the patient and medical colleagues.

The authors of the law have said that it does not copy voluntary euthanasia, because it does not allow the doctor actively to end the patient's life.

Many pro-life groups and representatives of the Catholic Church have said they agree with the proposed law.

Bishops seek clarification on "allow to die" law (catholicireland.net 14/4/05)

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Catholic Church in France

18 Apr 2005