Meeting with a member of the Citizens’ Convention on the end of life

Meeting with a member of the Citizens’ Convention on the end of life

Why, at 35, did you agree to participate in the Citizens’ Convention on the end of life?

I accepted because it is an exercise in participatory democracy. In life we ​​tend to meet people who are similar to us and I probably would not have met most of the citizens otherwise. Some reflect positions and speeches that we do not hear in our own environment and that is interesting. And then the basic question matters to me: at the crossroads of the intimate and the collective, the end of life concerns us all. We are all confronted with our finitude.

Have you experienced end-of-life situations in those around you?

Yes, like the majority of citizens of the Convention. I was confronted with it directly through those of my grandparents and an uncle. It questions and hits you. I thought about it often during these four months. Moreover, during the Convention, suffering occupied a very important place.

In your eyes, what constitutes the legitimacy of the Convention?

We are a sample of the diversity of the French population: we were chosen by drawing lots (from telephone numbers, editor’s note) and panelized (according to age, gender, level of diploma, geographical origin , Editor’s note). We reflected, debated together and confronted our questions with a plurality of experts.

After four months of work, what will your proposals focus on?

At this stage 2, a common base emerges which we have gradually called “Whatever”. Whatever the answer we give to the question asked by the Prime Minister – “Is the end-of-life support framework adapted to the different situations encountered or should possible changes be introduced?” –, there is a prerequisite. First, consolidate the general public’s knowledge of the Claeys-Leonetti law which governs the end of life. Added to this are proposals regarding the state of our health system and the difficulty of accessing a general practitioner. This often represents the gateway to the journey of a patient who fears the end of their life or to the support of people living their last moments. Finally the evolution of research. All of this is rather consensus and should occupy an important part of the final result.

And beyond this common base?

A large number of us – 84% in the last vote – consider that the current framework does not respond to all situations. However, we do not all understand the same things. For some, the law must evolve, possibly towards the opening of active assistance in dying, in different forms: assisted suicide or euthanasia (in the first case, the person administers the lethal product themselves; in the second, it is a doctor who is in charge, Editor’s note). Others believe that we should not necessarily go through this, but rather strengthen palliative care, particularly in departments which do not yet have units. On this second aspect, the Convention will reveal a whole rainbow of very different opinions with regard to personal experience and spiritual, philosophical and religious convictions.

What did you need to get to grips with the subject?

To listen and hear. I preferred to come to the Convention without any prior documentation. So much so that I had not read the Claeys-Leonetti law. I came across the words “active assistance in dying”, “assisted suicide”, “euthanasia” in the press without being able to add definitions. I made the choice to walk with others, listening to the hearings and round tables, within the collective framework of the Convention.

When we use the expression “end of life”, what are we talking about?

We talk about individual and singularity. The end of life is not conceptual, it is a physical situation that can be experienced in old age, but also young. Each individual considers it with their personal history, their convictions, their own apprehension.

Have you evolved over the course of the Convention?

Yes. At first, I thought that, behind the opening of active assistance in dying, the issues were spiritual, philosophical and moral. I had not understood the economic issue. However, if tomorrow active assistance in dying is opened, within the framework of our bloodless health system, it could become a sort of management control of old age, with all the possible abuses. The question of consciousness also changed my reasoning.

That’s to say ?

Regarding active assistance in dying, we have talked a lot about the state of consciousness of the person at the end of life. In this regard, two auditions left an impression on me. They led us to better approach, one the complexity of deep and continuous sedation until death (regulated by the law of 2016, Editor’s note) and, the other the capacity of discernment in minors and people suffering from psychiatric illnesses. This made it possible to clarify these two notions. Because awareness does not mean discernment. This highlighted questions more than answers.

What guidance did the representatives of secular religions and spiritualities who came to meet you give you?

All defend moral and republican principles. The religious recalled the importance of accompanying one’s neighbor to the end, the sacredness of life, the fact that life is also suffering and that we must know how to welcome this suffering. Philosophers and Freemasons have spoken of taking into account suffering possibly through active assistance in dying, they have asked the question of whether, in the event of loss of consciousness or refractory suffering, life is still worth living. ‘be experienced. But I did not expect that the representatives of the Masonic lodges would all consider that there should be a conscience clause for caregivers. I felt that, for them, the freedom of conscience and the individual freedom of caregivers take precedence over the secular and republican principle of the undifferentiated application of the law.

You had to take a stand. What values ​​guided your choice?

Inequalities concern me and the general interest matters to me. I am attached to our republican principles: liberty, equality, fraternity. The freedom of the individual is important, but also the fraternal framework, living together. My mother, who was a social worker, and my father, a quality manager in a private company, raised me in this environment, where we pay attention to others. I have been aware of social issues and politics since high school.

Do you talk more simply about death today?

No, on the other hand I perhaps understand it more easily for myself, deep down. What’s scary is the lack of knowledge. Today, I know that I could be confronted with this or that situation, I understand the range of possibilities a little better. It’s more comfortable on such a sensitive subject.

His bio

March 16, 1987: Born in Guilherand-Granges (Ardèche).

2009-2011 Graduate: in political science from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, then from Sciences Po Strasbourg.

2013: He joined the state civil service after his admission to the Regional Institute of Administration (IRA) in Lyon.

2019: Installation in Nantes (Loire-Atlantique).

December 9, 2022 – April 2, 2023: He participates in the Citizens’ Convention on the end of life.

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