Palliative care, euthanasia, assisted suicide... Is there a better way to die with dignity? In the run-up to the presentation of the bill on the end of life in France, France 5 broadcasts a documentary by Magali Cotard, "embodied" by Marina Carrère d'Encausse.
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Doctor, former presenter of the "Magazine de la santé", she does not only conduct a journalistic investigation but engages in an intimate way, her companion being suffering from Charcot's disease, an incurable neurodegenerative disease.
Read alsoOur review of the documentary End of life: so that you have the choice (France 5)
Changing the law
"I did not hesitate, as I met Antoine on that occasion. When he found out he was sick, he came to my production company to offer a documentary to tell his story," she says. He hoped to change the law on the end of life, before it was written and voted, especially for patients with Charcot's disease. It therefore seemed logical to me to enter into history, with the testimony of a patient, an emblematic example of the limits of the current law, which made it possible to explain why it had to change. »
" READ ALSO "I would be capable as a doctor": Marina Carrère d'Encausse supports the legalization of euthanasia in "C à vous"
Marina Carrère d'Encausse's position is now clear – she wants the decriminalization of euthanasia. "The evolution of my vision of things is linked to all the patients I have received as part of the "Health Magazine", relatives I have seen suffer at the end of life, and high-profile cases that have really marked me. That of Vincent Humbert or that of Anne Bert, who had Charcot's disease, who went abroad to die. This very pretty woman, in her fifties, had total paralysis of the upper limbs, she was dependent on everything. She had shocked because she was not dying in the short term, but who can judge the suffering? It made me advance in my reflection on the open-mindedness to have in relation to patients.»
A non-militant investigation
Nevertheless, Marina Carrère d'Encausse's investigation is not militant. "The idea was for it to be both didactic and informative," she says. That the documentary allows by listening to patients, caregivers, families, by going to different countries where different laws exist, to give people the means to position themselves.»
See alsoPalliative care facing the dilemma of active assistance in dying
Thus, in Belgium, euthanasia has been decriminalized for twenty years and the request can be made in advance to his family doctor. Of course, it is framed: the disease must be incurable, the suffering inextinguishable, the agreement of two professionals is required... Upon arrival, just under 3,000 cases in 2022, or 3% to 3.5% of patients die by euthanasia each year.
« A majority of doctors are against euthanasia and it seems perfectly audible to me »
Marina Carrère d'Encauss
It is a mental security, not all requests lead but the approach reassures, explains a practitioner. And, when it happens, often the last word is: "Thank you". In Switzerland, assisted suicide can be used. In France, only palliative care is allowed. But only 100,000 people can access it out of the 300,000 who apply for it each year.
"A majority of doctors are against euthanasia and it seems perfectly audible to me," continues Marina Carrère d'Encausse. There will be a double conscience clause if the law passes. Their convictions must be respected. It is a difficult, heavy gesture.
But it is logically the sick who are at the heart of the film. "It's such a complex problem, on which we have so many prejudices, religious, cultural. The most interesting to hear are the patients. They face death depending on how it is in their country. No one can put themselves in their shoes, she insists. Everyone lives his suffering in his body, in his head. »