In September 2015, the UK Parliament voted heavily against the Assisted Dying Bill, which would have allowed doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients with less than six months to live. There were concerns that the bill gave people a right to die, and the slippery slope argument was used to assert that the effects of legalising assisted dying would be akin to opening a Pandora’s box.
Law concerning end-of-life decisions are often controversial because of their sensitive nature and the varying approaches different jurisdictions have taken.
France’s Parliament has just approved a ‘deep sleep’ bill. As a compromise on active euthanasia, the new law allows for terminally ill patients to request ‘deep, continuous sedation altering consciousness until death’ if their condition is likely to lead to a quick death.
It is arguable it would be more humane to allow such patients to die immediately if they so wish, rather than have them die naturally under medication or of starvation. But the new law is a step towards allowing patients to have a greater say in end-of-life decisions, or at least to have a peaceful, largely suffering-free death.
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