Doctors in France will have the right to put terminally-ill patients into a deep sleep until they die, under plans unveiled on Friday that reignited a national debate on euthanasia.
Apart from Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland, few countries in the world explicitly permit euthanasia or assisted suicide.
In France, a 2005 law permits “passive euthanasia”, where a person causes death by withholding or withdrawing treatment that is necessary to maintain life.
The proposals by two MPs – one from the ruling Socialists, the other from the opposition UMP – go a step further, as they allow doctors to couple passive euthanasia with “deep and continuous sedation” for terminally-ill patients who are conscious and whose treatment is not working or for those who decide to stop taking medication.
Patients who are not able to make decisions could in certain circumstances also be placed into deep, permanent sleep.