The text is still pending. The bill "on the French end-of-life model", promised by Emmanuel Macron, will be "presented in February", after a ten-year plan on palliative care, Agnès Firmin Le Bodo, Minister Delegate for Health Professions, announced on Friday.
On this text, which is as expected as it is sensitive, the executive has postponed the deadline several times, to the great displeasure of supporters of a change in legislation.
After the citizens' convention on the end of life, which was mostly in favour of active assistance in dying, Emmanuel Macron had asked his ministers for a bill "before the end of the summer" of 2023.
"In particular, we had to deepen the strategy of supportive care, even more than we had imagined, which led to a loosening of the schedule," said the Minister Delegate in an interview with Le Figaro published online on Friday evening.
A Package of Palliative Care to Assisted Dying
In detail, the announcement of a new ten-year strategy on palliative care "will take place in January and some of its elements that fall under the law must be included in the text," the minister said. "The bill on the French end-of-life model will therefore be presented in February," she adds.
"It is important to understand that the new French end-of-life model is a whole, ranging from the strengthening of palliative care to active assistance in dying for those who wish to do so, under certain eligibility conditions that have been set by the President of the Republic," said Agnès Le Bodo. "On such a complex subject, you have to take the necessary time, weigh the words."
On the reform of palliative care, the minister promises "a small revolution". "Their scope must be broadened to anticipate this care upstream, as soon as a serious illness is announced," she says.
New "houses of accompaniment"
Among the new features proposed in the report led by Professor Franck Chauvin (based on a 2024-2034 plan) on palliative care and submitted to the government this week, "new support centres, the missing link between the hospital and the home, will make it possible to embody this revolution in care", says Agnès Firmin Le Bodo.
Submission of Professor @ChauvinFrm's ⤵️
After intense work, he drew up a French model of companion care. The ten-year strategy that will follow will live up to expectations: everyone at the end of life must receive care, regardless of where they live. pic.twitter.com/QcF58sND1k
— Agnès Firmin Le Bodo (@agnesfirmin) December 8, 2023
"Some aspects of the strategy can be implemented very quickly, without waiting for the law to be passed, while others cannot," she said.
"The mother of all battles is to train professionals," says the minister, who suggests that "this component can happen quickly." Conversely, other aspects "will take longer to implement, such as the creation of a university specialty" of companion care, she says.
One aspect remains divisive
The palliative care component is rather consensual, but the form of a future "active assistance in dying", the most divisive measure, remains suspended in Emmanuel Macron's arbitrations. In theory, there are three options: assisted suicide alone, assisted suicide with the exception of euthanasia (with a gesture by the medical profession), assisted suicide and euthanasia of choice. The former seems to be out of the question, according to several observers.
Politically, the majority of the left defends assisted suicide and euthanasia, but is not unanimous; the right and the far right are hostile to it; The presidential majority is divided. The executive also has to deal with the clear opposition of a majority of caregivers and religious groups.
In September, a minister said he felt "the president was a little reserved" on active assistance in dying. And "when he's reserved about something, he waits until as late as possible to decide." "He is convinced, but he considers the moment opportune," another minister confided in recent days, stressing that "this is a divisive subject" and risks fuelling "an extremely violent campaign" by opponents.