A private physician, Pascale Favre is a specialist in micronutrition, psychotherapy and hypnosis, she has a DEA in law and health economics. A doctoral student in philosophy, she published a research dissertation in 2020 on the impact of euthanasia on doctors (Gustave-Eiffel University, Paris).
General practitioner then hospital practitioner, Jean-Maris Gomas is a specialist in general medicine, algology, palliative care, geriatrics. Co-founder of the palliative care movement in France (SFAP), he directed a palliative care unit in a university hospital in Paris until 2018.
Together they published End of life: can you choose your death? (Artège, 2022).
The Claeys-Leonetti law on the end of life dates from 2016. A law in preparation will make it possible to go further. Is this necessary, and what assessment can we make of the existing law?
Jean-Marie Gomas: I don’t think the Leonetti law has failed, it’s a very good text. But it is rather its application by the health system that has not been optimal, even though it was an indisputable attempt to move away from the “all-curative” approach.. But society was probably not ready. I believe that we have never taken the measure, at the level of the university, the hospital, of home caregivers, of the key words of palliative care: treating the illness, of course, but accepting the finitude of the life by providing comfort to the patient and optimizing communication with them.
I would add that there are obviously not enough palliative care centers. While we increasingly hold out the promise of immortality to our fellow citizens when they suffer from neurological diseases or cancers, we lay the groundwork for the all-curative with the crazy hope of “always heal”. Look at how politicians have been extraordinarily cowardly in handling the reality of deaths during the Covid epidemic. We were told of two hundred or three hundred deaths per day, forgetting to tell us about the other deaths: on average a thousand per day in summer, two thousand in winter, a quarter of which from cancer, a quarter from chronic diseases, and a quarter by vascular or cerebral accidents.
This article is taken from “Special Issue Le Monde – Death in the Face, 2023”. This special issue is on sale at newsstands or online by going to on our store website.
In your opinion, why does the government not want to use the word “euthanasia” in the new law on end of life?
J.-MG: The president made it clear that this word “ euthanasia” seemed violent to him. It is undeniably extremely violent to administer death, even if the patient has asked for it. We very much fear that the National Assembly, mainly pro-euthanasia, will add amendments on assisted suicide and allow euthanasia. No doubt, at the beginning, as an exception, but we know what happens to exceptions: they then become the norm. We have told ministers and various bodies several times that euthanasia is a red line, that caregivers do not want to administer death even if the patient requests it. Assisted suicide is already an anthropological break, euthanasia is even worse, hence the difficulty of using this word. This is why supporters of a new law are talking about“ active assistance in dying”; there is a desire to euphemize, to smooth, to make people think that administering death can be a treatment.
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