The end of life: what is the point of view of the people of Aveyron?

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Written by Doug Hampton

the essential
According to an Ifop poll, 78% of French people expect the citizens’ convention on the end of life to legalize active assistance in dying. A fight led locally by Jean-Luc Calmels, Aveyron delegate of the association to die with the right to dignity.

The end of life is currently at the heart of the political debate. The decision of the citizens’ convention, rendered last month, is final. She judges “necessary” to authorize assisted suicide and euthanasia. In response, Emmanuel Macron announced a ten-year national plan for palliative care and pain management. A decision that Jean-Luc Calmels, delegate of the Aveyron of the association to die with the right to dignity (ADMD), which campaigns for universal access to palliative care and a law legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia, does not consider satisfactory and qualifies as “time saving”.

Why do you want to find arguments for not legislating?

Recently, the ministers Olivier Véran and Agnès Firmin le Bodo commissioned France assos national health to carry out a consultation of its network on the question of the end of life, before the summer. It is misunderstanding for Jean-Luc Calmels. “How to explain that after so many opinions and various consultations, we are still there? To push back the inevitable need to legislate? To find arguments not to legislate?” A survey which, according to him, can only very imperfectly reflect the reality of delicate end-of-life situations.

Former air traffic controller of parents from Aveyron, Jean-Luc Calmels settled in Saint-Cyprien-sur-Dourdou, when he retired. At 67, in addition to his activities as a municipal councilor in Conques and president of the Myosotis day center in Saint-Cyprien, he is leading actions for the legalization of active assistance in dying. “I think it would be necessary to arrive at this republican law. Freedom is the spirit that must animate it, giving everyone the possibility of having a choice. A law that is based on a principle of equality, legislative and financial, and fraternity.”

The three Aveyron MPs declared themselves in favor

He nevertheless mentions the difficulty of bringing together the 330 to 350 members of the association in the department. The high average age of members, the difficulty of getting around for some, the department being predominantly rural, the health crisis, the pension reform which has largely occupied the media space lately… He nevertheless attests, relying on the polls carried out in the last decade, that the majority of French people want this law. As for the three deputies from Aveyron, they declared themselves in favor of active assistance in dying during public meetings.

Among doctors, there are two stories. In September 2022, the Order of Physicians declared itself “against euthanasia”. However, this decision does not reflect the position of all professionals. Natalie Hanseler Corréard, retired general practitioner since the beginning of 2020, formerly based in Saint-Cyprien-sur-Dourdou for 12 years and member of the Council of the Order of Departmental and Regional Physicians, is in favor of the legalization of active assistance in dying .

According to her personal opinion that she has forged over the course of her career, by being in direct contact with people experiencing terrible end of life, “death is part of the life of patients, we cannot take away this freedom from people to choose”. She is aware that many doctors do not share her opinion. “The end of life should be managed by society, within a legal framework, and not rest on the shoulders of doctors. Doctors must be released from responsibility, otherwise we will not move forward.”

The supervision of the end of life by a law legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide is essential according to her, and could prevent excesses and create a dialogue between the person at the end of life and his entourage, the goal being to appease families.

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