Convention on the end of life: motivated citizens and many questions

They are 185 citizens, chosen by lot, gathered this Sunday, December 11 in the hemicycle of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Cese) to close the first session of the End of life agreementconvened by the President Macron and officially launched on Friday, December 9, by the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne.

On the platform, the three “graphical enablers” following the works summarize in a few sketches the highlights of these first days, the “path of appropriation” to better define the stakes of this exercise in participatory democracy at meetings with “experts”, including former MP Alain Claeys, who came to present the legislative framework. Without forgetting the “thematic workshops” which made it possible to become familiar with, among other things, the concept of palliative care, or to enter into the subtleties of opinion 139 of the National Consultative Ethics Committee which opened the way to “medical assistance in dying”.

“We all agree that we must relieve the suffering”

After two intense days of meetings and immersion in the subject, the time has come for the restitution of the reflections carried out by the three working groups set up for the occasion. The method proposed by the governance committee of the Convention follows a specific rule: first, allow everyone to express themselves; then, list the points of divergence and convergence; finally, point out the questions that have remained unanswered and the new demands that arise.

The presentation by the “rapporteurs” shows all the richness of the debate and the questioning of the members of the Convention. “Our group agrees on the lack of means for palliative care and the fact that the law does not take into account all situations, but we need more information on active assistance in dying, the operation of nursing homes , the place of secular and religious spirituality…”, emphasize Audrey and Anton.

“We all agree that we must relieve suffering, but should we go as far as assisted suicide or euthanasia? There, opinions are divided. We would also like to go see a palliative care unit, go deeper into the subject with doctors and, why not, hear from those of us who have been confronted with the end of life of a loved one”, suggest Laura and Martial.

Belgian and Swiss representatives

“We asked ourselves a lot of questions about the best way to organize palliative care, about inequalities in access to care or how to take care of the patient’s wishes. But the most divisive question is that of assisted dying: is that the subject? How to avoid deviations? We will still need sessions for a serene debate, ” recognize Soline and Johnny.

But already the Belgian doctor Corinne Vaysse-van Oost and two representatives of the Swiss association Dignitas settle down for a presentation on the systems of their countries which authorize one euthanasia, the other assisted suicide. “These days have been dense”, acknowledges Claire Thoury, chair of the governance committee, to temporarily close the debate. “See you next Friday for three days of meetings with the great religions and the nursing staff. »

It is 1 p.m. and Marion N., 81, one of the eight people in precariousness designated by ATD Fourth World to participate in the Convention, grabbed her packed lunch and put on her down jacket: “I have the head like that. I return home, to Aubervilliers. »

Convention on the end of life: motivated citizens and many questions