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“The legalization or not of active assistance in dying can only be sacrificial”

PMore than a conflict of values ​​between individual freedom and collective solidarity, what opposes the two parties in the current debate on active assistance in dying is the ease with which one of these values ​​can be renounced and mourned. But if it was above all a political choice, more than an ethical one? Are we in the presence of such a dilemma? The analysis of the stakes seems to show that, whatever the final political choice, the legalization or not of active assistance in dying can only be sacrificial.

Current laws prohibit euthanasia and assisted suicide. Efforts are therefore focused on strengthening palliative care, listening to the patient through his written instructions or his trusted person, and, in the event of an extreme situation and fatal illness in the short term, deep and continuous sedation. However, however optimal it may be, the development of palliative care will always leave people whose pathology is only fatal in the medium term in a cone of shadow. These, not wanting to undergo an inevitable degradation, today have no other means than to go to Switzerland or Belgium. It is an individual choice. Not responding to them is a collective choice. It may be respectable, but it must be assumed, named, and not concealed under the promise of better days by a hypothetical rise of palliative medicine.

We then say to ourselves that it would be enough to legalize active assistance in dying to pull these patients out of the blind spot where legal prudence and ethical rigor have placed them. But is it so simple, and would the price to pay be zero? Undoubtedly not, because the obsessive precaution that prevails today in the face of a request for assistance in dying could well give way, even in an exceptional way, to a convenience of execution permitted and protected by law. Thus, lessons from abroad (but also from French cases sadly in the media) must be scrupulously examined, in all their dimensions.

Giving in to a sense of worthlessness

The situations of express implementation of certain euthanasias must be viewed with as much reserve, but also credit, as one receives with respect the irreproachable and humanist testimony of the doctor François Damas in Belgium. But the critical point is not so much that of these painful cases, certainly, but fortunately exceptional. We must look further, and question the consideration of a society for the most vulnerable, disabled, dependent, elderly, sick, depressed…

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