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Euthanasia for Alzheimer's, 'Accelerated Deaths' Considered by European Neighbors

(UPDATED) French ethics committee votes against expanded euthanasia, but president still plans to introduce bill.

Update (July 3): After France's national ethics committee voted against supporting legislation that would legalize euthanasia, French president Francois Hollande declared his continued support for the policy. Hollande also stated that his administration will introduce a bill that would "'complete and improve the (current) law which was already a step in the direction of human dignity.'"

Reuters reported that nine of the 17 ethics committee members agreed that widespread legalization of euthanasia would be "dangerous to society" due to an accompanying risk of abuse. However, as public opinion in France largely supports broader legislation, both the ethics committee and Hollande agree that national debates should be the next step in the future of the issue in France, according to Reuters.


A presidential report has recommended that France legalize "accelerated deaths"–but not euthanasia.

Agence France-Presse reports that the study, commissioned by French president François Hollande, favors physician-authorized "interventions that ensure quicker deaths for terminal patients in three specific sets of circumstances." However, it stops short of recommending euthanasia.

According to Radio France Internationale, current French legislation states "it is illegal to give patients medication which will kill them, but legal to administer pain relief, which might have the side effect of shortening life."

Hollande said the existing policies do "not meet the legitimate concerns expressed by people who are gravely and incurably ill," and he plans to introduce new legislation based on the report within the year.

Meanwhile, Belgium–one of only two countries in Europe in which euthanasia currently is legal for those over age 18–is also considering changes that would allow both "minors and Alzheimer's sufferers to seek permission to die," AFP reports.

CT has regularly reported on the topic of physician-assisted suicide, noting changes to Dutch euthanasia policies in 2006 and the confusion caused when the media covers end-of-life issues. CT has also noted the spread of "quieter killings" beyond Oregon into Washington, and almost Massachusetts.

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