Sunday guest: Pierre Blanchet, “end-of-life activist”, leads his final fight

Sunday guest: Pierre Blanchet, “end-of-life activist”, leads his final fight

Pierre Blanchet: “People are free.” Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

An activist at heart, Montpellier Pierre Blanchet, regional representative of Ultime Liberté, an association which defends access to a “free” end of life, assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia with the help of barbiturates banned in France, is waging its "last fight", as it opens this Monday, April 22, at the National Assembly, hearings prior to the adoption of a new law on the end of life.

"There are climate activists, I am an end-of-life activist".&nbsp ;Pierre Blanchet, referent of Ultime Liberté in former Languedoc Roussillon, says it cautiously with "we", "I wouldn't want the association's colleagues to have the impression that I'm pulling the rug out for myself".

Campaigner for a "end of free life", he must also measure his words as he evolves outside the current law and outside the framework of the discussions which will begin this Monday, April 22 at the National Assembly to rewrite, by then & rsquo;summer, the Claeys-Leonetti law and set the conditions for "active assistance in dying" according to the course set by Emmanuel Macron and the bill tabled on April 10.

From her house in the residential district of Les Aubes, in Montpellier, opening onto a bright garden, where an issue of Télérama which headlines 'La vie et rien d'& rsquo;other" (in a photo of the writer Salman Rushdie) lying on the living room table, he looks back on a series of missed appointments, obvious avoidances: "We had an appointment with Olivier Véran when he was in government, he canceled three hours before. In Le Havre, Agnès Firmin-Le Bodo came to our stand and said she would welcome us, this was never the case. We asked to be heard by the commission, we have no response", recalls Pierre Blanchet, who carefully refers to the statutes of the association’ when asked to clarify what he means by a "end of free life".

A crucial week

The preparatory audition cycle for the examination of the text on the end of life begins this Monday, April 22   6 p.m. à the National Assembly with the hearing of the Minister of Health Catherine Vautrin. The commission is chaired by the former Minister of Health, Agnès Firmin-Le Bodo. Made up of 71 members from all parties sitting at the Palais-Bourbon, in proportion to their representativeness, it will hear from numerous actors, representatives of religions, Citizens' convention, health professionals, sociologists, philosophers… The text will arrive à the National Assembly on May 27. The MoDem Olivier Falorni, former president of the working group on the end of life at the National Assembly, will be the general rapporteur, he will be assisted by of four co-rapporteurs, Laurence Maillard-Méhaignerie (Renaissance), Didier Martin (Renaissance), Caroline Fiat (La France insoumise) and Laurence Cristol (Renaissance).

They say "the freedom to dispose of one's person, one's body and one's life, and therefore of one's death, the freedom to choose the time, place and modalities of one's death, the freedom recognized by a law to resort assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia when the person concerned is in a state where he can no longer communicate and has expressed his will, the freedom to access lethal products, in safe conditions.

A trial at the Paris Criminal Court in 2024

Created in 2009 by two former members of the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity, Ultime Liberté, 4,500 members, more "radical", declared to the prefecture of Haute-Marne and registered in the Official Journal, walks on a wire. Especially to stock up on "product",says Pierre Blanchet, himself a former member of the ADMD, who "informs, listens, accompanies".

Details are reserved for members, "in person, never on the telephone".

Caution is required after eleven members of the association were indicted for "importation, complicity of ;importation and possession of illicit products". Their trial is scheduled for this year at the Paris Criminal Court.

"We will be there, we will make noise", promises the Montpellier resident, who will not remain inactive either in the process of overhauling the law: "We could cross a few red lines. And if what is planned happens, it will already be a step forward, he is satisfied.

The bill and assisted dying

The text of the bill relating to à end of life, deposited April 10, 2024 & the National Assembly, opens "active aidé die", preferé at the end of assisted suicide, for adults, French nationals or legal and stable foreign residents in France, able to carry out suicide. manifest their will in a free and informed manner, suffering from a serious and incurable illness with a life-threatening prognosis. &agrav; short or &agrav; medium term". They must also be "victims of refractory or unbearable suffering".

A doctor must evaluate the request and validate the choice.

It is the patient who will have to administer the lethal product to themselves, with the help of a caregiver or a close relative. rsquo;he wants it.

By comparing a possible legalization of euthanasia to a return of the death penalty, this week, in his blog, the mayor of Toulouse Jean-Luc Moudenc shows how much the subject is eruptive : "The debates are going to be tough", predicts Pierre Blanchet, who draws a parallel with the passionate debates, sometimes hateful, around abortion, half a century ago.

Laurence Cristol : "You really have to have a sense of proportion"

"Pierre Blanchet, you know ?" "No", calmly replies the Renaissance Hérault MP Laurence Cristol, co-rapporteur of the future text.

"And Ultimate Freedom ?" "Yes" whispers the chosen one, who continues: "You really have to have a sense of proportion. It is important to follow what the President of the Republic said, it is the French model. I'm not into extremes at all. I appreciate the debates, we have the objective of listening to the whole of society and responding to it, but I have a little difficulty with certain very radical positions. It shocks me because I am in a dynamic of relief, accompaniment and support, she reacts.

"We are in the accompaniment, the listening, the support", says, echoing, Véronique, Aude-Roussillon referent of Ultime Liberté , who saw his father and mother "obtain the product". &quot ;One chose to leave" and the other died in palliative care after deep sedation. "These are two life experiences. I don't understand why people feel in danger and are aggressive, everyone must be able to do what they want, reacts the activist, who greets Pierre Blanchet& ;nbsp;"a beautiful person, attentive, serious, he brings us a lot".

"He is precise, caring, without verbiage, perfect in his role", adds another, < em>"secure about the idea of ​​leaving without being forced to suffer degradation". She saw her parents "leaving in unworthy conditions", "I think we all have bad experiences with loved ones", she adds .

"It’it wasn’a personal story that brought me into this"

"It’it wasn’a personal story that brought me into this", specifies Pierre Blanchet, married, father and grandfather, born in Montluçon, in Allier, "north of Clermont-Ferrand", "in a family of activists" : the father was in the MRP, a centrist Christian democratic movement which is’ went extinct in the late 1960s, "my brother helped deserters from the Algerian war".

Rather than ephemeral forays into politics, the Unified Socialist Youth at high school, a companionship with an elected official, a PS card returned after 6 months "while it took me ten years to take it", Pierre Blanchet, who arrived in Hérault in 1974, talks about a career in insurance, then in quality certification, recalls his long experience in activism: "I was president of the Solidarité Dom-Tom association in Montpellier, of the ’ rsquo;Consumers Union What to choose, I campaigned at Cimade, I was an organ donor…" And member of the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity (ADMD).

"We will all end up in nursing homes", he slips, fatalistically, to the colleague from an ephemeral psychotherapy training course.

The "me not" of his interlocutor initiates a reflection. "We all have this idea of ​​not wanting to be dependent, not to weigh on the lives of our children… but all this remains theoretical, three quarters of people do not use the product they purchased. But it's like end-of-life insurance, the possibility of not going to a nursing home, of not letting the doctors decide, of not doing a third chemo…hellip; It makes me scream to hear that there can be deviations. One of our very old activists preferred to die in excruciating suffering, others have said goodbye to me several times, they are still there, or have disappeared years later late, perhaps from natural death.

The conclusions of the Citizens’ Convention

&At the end of its last session, on April 2, 2023, at the end of 27 days of debates launched in December 2022, the Citizens' Convention on the end of life, made up of 184 citizens chosen at random, awarded Emmanuel Macron a report which recommends the development of palliative care "for everyone everywhere", and positions itself " 75.6% in favor of active aid die, considering that the framework of the Claeys-Leonetti law of 2016 is insufficient. The Convention is in favor of the joint implementation of assisted suicide. and euthanasia, "considering that choosing one of the two solutions would not respond to the issue. diversity situations encountered", and poses as a preliminary "that the willé of the patient is heard and respected, taking into account his or her capacity to respond. of discernment", in particular medical conditions, incurability, refractory suffering and physical suffering.

"Very favorable to the development of palliative care"

There are also those who prefer to die abroad: "This morning, I got a call from a family in Narbonne. The mother left for Switzerland with her husband and daughter. Suffering from Charcot's disease, she was totally paralyzed, to the point of not being able to speak. The future law will perhaps open the door in these cases", hopes Pierre Blanchet, who salutes the "good job" of the Citizens’ Convention.

He also says "very favorable to the development of palliative care, provided that people can choose". For him, "deep sedation is a euthanasia that does not speak its name."  < /em>

Dialogue is difficult: "We're going to toast before arguing", suggests a doctor from an end-of-life unit, met a few days ago at a dinner. "You're not going to ruin the day" , also worry about the friends he speaks to "advance directives". "I am very serene, I am going on my 80 brooms, it’this is my last fight".

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