Sedation, not euthanasia for France
PARIS — France’s lower house of parliament has approved a bill that could let doctors keep terminally ill patients sedated until death comes but stops short of legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide. After years of tense debate over the issue and a long journey through Parliament, the bill is now facing a final vote at the Senate Wednesday evening. The text is the result of a consensus of Socialist and conservative lawmakers. If adopted, it would allow patients to request “deep, continuous sedation altering consciousness until death” but only when their condition is likely to lead to a quick death. Doctors would be allowed to stop life-sustaining treatments, including artificial hydration and nutrition. Sedation and painkillers would be allowed “even if they may shorten the person’s life.”The bill would also apply to patients who are unable to express their will, following a process that includes consultation with family members. The methods can involve medicating patients until they die naturally of their illness or until they starve. Some doctors, however, say it may be more human to euthanize.