The euthanasia bill was sponsored in the French Senate by Jean-Pierre Godefroy (Parti Socialiste), Alain Fouché (UMP) and François Autain and Guy Fischer (Parti communiste-Parti de gauche).
The bill would have allowed euthanasia for people with disabilities, those with chronic conditions and people who are defined as terminal.
Prime Minister François Fillon spoke out against the euthanasia bill a few days earlier. Mr Fillion said that:
although he had never had to face the nightmare of living with someone as they died, he was still against a law allowing actively helping someone to die.
He thought such a law would not fit in with the “basic values of our society” and that to legislate giving the right to end someone’s life was a limit “we should not go beyond”. He said it was also “very dangerous” as it did not allow for any consultation with the family.
Mr Fillon said the debate should also take account of the actions taken since 2008 by Nicolas Sarkozy who has made the care of terminally ill people “an absolute priority”.
That had led to the development of a palliative care programme that has seen the creation of 1,200 new beds and the start, last March, of specific financial aid to allow families to care for terminally ill loved ones.
A recent poll in France found that:
- 52% of the respondents thought that legalizing euthanasia would include a "risk of abuse."
- 60% of the respondents thought that France should make the development of palliative care a priority before considering the legalization of euthanasia, while 38% thought that France should legalize euthanasia.
The concerns of the French citizen is well founded. Recent studies in Belgium found in the Flanders region that 32% of the euthanasia deaths were done without explicit request or consent and another study found that 47.8% of the euthanasia deaths were not reported.