Church in France opposes bill to legalize euthanasia

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As parliamentarians debated Thursday a bill to legalize euthanasia, French bishops spoke out against the proposal.

A bill to institute a right to “a free and chosen end of life” was debated in the National Assembly, the lower house of France’s parliament, April 8.

“The solution when a person faces suffering is not to kill them, but to ease their pain and to accompany them,” Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris told France Inter.

“It is all the more paradoxical that there is this attack on death, on the manner of causing death, at the very moment when death surrounds us everywhere. On the contrary, we should fight for life,” he exclaimed, urging better palliative care.

The bill’s sponsor is Olivier Falorni, a member of the opposition parliamentary group Liberties and Territories.

The government has not taken a position on the bill, though most members of the governing La République En Marche group support legal euthanasia.

Members of parliament opposed to euthanasia have filed some 3,000 amendments to the bill, intending to delay a vote until its allotted time has passed. Most amendments were filed by members of the opposition The Republicans group.

Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Lille wrote April 7 that “it is care, gentleness and support that our fellow citizens need … Protecting the person who suffers by accompanying them with care is not equivalent to killing.”

He noted that “a caused death would be declared among the cases of natural death” under the bill. “This is where the political habit of twisting the meaning of words takes us.”

While euthanasia is illegal in France, a 2005 law allows physicians to refrain from using “disproportionate” treatments “with no other effect than maintaining life artificially.”

During a 2018 effort to legalize assisted suicide, 118 French bishops signed a declaration promoting end-of-life care and explaining the Church’s opposition to suicide in all forms.

“Whatever our convictions, the end of life is a time we all will live and a concern we share. Everyone must be able to think as calmly as possible, avoiding the pitfalls of passions and pressures,” the bishops said in the document.

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