the order of doctors, opposed to euthanasia, calls for a "conscience clause"

A support volunteer visits a patient at the Maison de Nicodème, a palliative care facility, in Nantes, on April 25, 2022.

By announcing the launch of a citizens' convention on active assistance in dying, Emmanuel Macron relaunched the end of life debate. Through the voice of its president, the order of doctors declared itself Thursday, September 15 “not in favor of euthanasia” and considers that, if France opens up the possibility of active assistance in dying, doctors must benefit from "conscience clause"in an interview with Doctor's Daily.

This position comes two days after the publication of the opinion of the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE). He deemed it possible, in a notice published Tuesday, September 13active assistance in dying under strict conditions, for adults suffering from serious and incurable illnesses, with physical or psychological suffering that cannot be alleviated and a vital prognosis committed in the medium term.

For the President of the National Council of the Order of Physicians (CNOM), François Arnault, “place and role” sketched for the doctor by the CCNE appear “rather like a good basis for reflection”. “He must make sure of the diagnosis and verify that the person meets the medical criteria – the clinical situations envisaged, for example certain neurodegenerative diseases, are rather consensus in their difficulty of management. He must also ensure the reality of the patient's wishes, which is very important.he detailed in the interview.

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"The law must protect the doctor in the accompaniment"

“If assisted suicide is accepted, we will be very attentive: [le médecin] should he be a companion? Surely. Perform ? I do not believe. This is not his job "said the Dr Arnaud. “And the order is not favorable to euthanasia”during which a doctor performs the lethal injection, he continued.

To the question of whether to go further than the Claeys-Leonetti law of 2016, the president of the CNOM replied that “the population has high expectations” but that"The law must protect the doctor in the support he would be required to provide".

Read also: End of life: what the law allows in France and what it does not allow

"This must go through a conscience clause, like the one that exists for the voluntary termination of pregnancy, with the duty to redirect the patient to a doctor who agrees to take care of him", he pleaded. A position which is in line with CCNE's recommendations.

More broadly, the president of the medical order judged France " very late " on the end of life and considered that it was “it is necessary for each department to have establishments dedicated to the end of life, with trained and supported caregivers”. According to him, "we must fight against these inequalities of access to palliative care, through training, and already through the application of the Claeys-Leonetti law".

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The World with AFP

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