End of life and “assisted dying”: Hérault MP Laurence Cristol welcomes a “balanced, meaningful” text

End of life and “assisted dying”: Hérault MP Laurence Cristol welcomes a “balanced, meaningful” text

Laurence Cristol, à l’Assemblée nationale, qui accueillera à partir du 27 mai le débat sur la fin de vie. – LR

Un cycle d’auditions préparatoire à l’examen du texte sur la fin de vie débute ce lundi 22 avril à l’Assemblée nationale. Un projet de loi dont la députée de l’Hérault, sera corapporteure.

This Monday, April 22 at 6 p.m., in the Lamartine room of the National Assembly, the Minister of Health Catherine Vautrin will be the first person to be heard by a special commission on the bill on the end of of life. A commission chaired by the former Minister of Health, Agnès Firmin-Le Bodo, with 71 members from all the parties sitting at the Palais-Bourbon, in proportion to their representativeness.

It only meets exceptionally, "only when a text presents an issue such that it motivates all the groups and commissions permanent (social affairs, laws, finances, etc.) are represented there. The last time, it was for the bioethics law, in 2021", Laurence explained to Midi Libre this Tuesday Cristol, deputy for Hérault.

May 27, start of debates in the Assembly

During this cycle of preparatory hearings for the examination of the text, all the actors concerned by this bill will be heard, from representatives of religions to those of the citizens' convention which worked on the subject, including health professionals, sociologists, philosophers, etc.

Then, on May 27, the text will arrive at the National Assembly, where it should be discussed for at least two weeks, no accelerated procedure being considered by the government on such a delicate issue.

"Helped dying"

Olivier Falorni (MoDem, who was president of the working group on the end of life at the Assembly, and author of a proposed law on the subject in 2021) will be the general rapporteur, and will work with four co-rapporteurs: Laurence Maillard-Méhaignerie (Renaissance), Didier Martin (Renaissance), Caroline Fiat (La France insoumise), and therefore, Laurence Cristol (Renaissance).
She will be in charge of the articles relating to the protocol of what is no longer called  "assisted suicide", but "assisted dying".

"Articles 7 to 15 of the bill detail the entire procedure. On such a subject, it is essential to be extremely precise, on every single word" indicates the chosen one.

Supportive and comfort care, in addition to palliative care

Who, however, wishes to recall that this bill has two components:"And the first is fundamental, it concerns the strengthening of supportive care and the rights of patients. This is a much broader field than palliative care alone, for more extensive and encompassing care".

"This also allows she adds, the creation of a new category of ;rsquo;medical-social establishment: support homes. And the question of supportive and comfort care is also being considered, in addition to palliative care. This restores balance and hope to territories and departments which do not benefit from palliative care and sufficient human resources to meet needs. And that completes the Claeys-Leonetti law which was revolutionary."

A consensus for the first part of the future law ?

A part of the bill which, Laurence Cristol agrees, could "receive a favorable welcome from as many people as possible" at the Palais-Bourbon. The second will prove more divisive, on "assisted dying".

A text which also aims to strengthen palliative care

The bill presented to the Council of Ministers on April 10 includes the opening of "assisted dying"< /em> as a flagship measure. Which can benefit people meeting five conditions: being of legal age, being of French nationality or residing in France, being able to express their will "in a free and informed manner", having declared a serious and incurable illness with a life-threatening prognosis, presenting physical or psychological suffering "refractory or unbearable".< /p>

The patient will administer the lethal substance himself, or will ask a person of his choice if he is unable to do so. The caregiver present will be able to carry out this gesture, a conscience clause being provided for those who do not wish to carry out this task.

But this bill also includes a first component dedicated to palliative care and its strengthening, so that each patient concerned, throughout the territory (where large disparities in palliative care remain material) can benefit from it. To this end, "support homes" will be created.

The government has also promised to increase funding allocated to palliative care by 1.1 billion euros over ten years.

But it is with the text in its entirety that Laurence Cristol, who, moreover, works as a geriatrician at the Montpellier Cancer Institute, says he is & quot;totally in phase. It is balanced, and makes sense. With protective boundaries, and a very strict framework, in which this French model of the end of life, as defined by the President of the Republic, finds all its relevance".

The Claeys-Leonetti law is insufficient?

A subject on which she recognizes "have evolved. I have been a geriatrician for 25 years, and I still consult in oncogeriatrics. I therefore experienced palliative care support before and after the Claeys-Leonetti law, and I had the feeling that it could respond to all needs, all requests. But this is unfortunately not the case for all situations, even if it remains exceptional. I was in the end-of-life working group, I participated in the development of the project, we all listened a lot, heard many opinions. And, yes, it is one of those societal and ethical subjects that can call into question our certainties. This is my case. And I hope I now have the courage to use nuance. Because we are talking about patients who suffer in an unbearable and inhuman way. And that we must hear".

Respectful debates?

A sense of nuance which she wants to believe will also be relevant during the debates in the hemicycle: "On such a fundamental question, I sincerely hope that the debates will remain respectful. And they will be, I am weak enough to think so."

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