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Emmanuel Macron backs new bill to allow medically assisted dying in France

French President Emmanuel Macron (PA Wire)
French President Emmanuel Macron (PA Wire)

French president Emmanuel Macron backed new end-of-life legislation on Sunday, saying his government aimed to put forward a draft bill to parliament in May.

Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands have adopted laws that allow medically assisted dying in some cases.

However, France has so resisted that step amid opposition from religious bodies, including the Catholic Church.

In an interview with Liberation newspaper, Mr Macon said he did not want to call the new legislation euthanasia or assisted suicide, but rather “help to die".

“It does not, strictly speaking, create a new right nor a freedom, but it traces a path which did not exist until now and which opens the possibility of requesting assistance in dying under certain strict conditions," he said.

Mr Macron said those conditions would need to be met and a medical team would assess and ensure the criteria for the decision was correct.

It would concern only adults capable of making the decision and whose life prognosis is threatened in the medium-term such as final-stage cancer, he said.

Family members would also be able to appeal the decision, Macron said.

The bill comes after a group of 184 randomly appointed French citizens were appointed to debate the issue.

They concluded their work last year with 76% of them saying they favoured allowing some form of assistance to die, for those who want it.

The decision to push ahead with the end of life legislation comes after the right to abortion was enshrined into the French constitution, following an overwhelming vote by lawmakers earlier this month.

Mr Macron has sought to bolster his image as a social reformer just three months before June's European parliamentary elections.

His party is more than 10 points behind the far-right Rassemblement National in polls.