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French fudge favours finesse

France’s National Assembly – the lower house of Parliament – has voted massively in favour (436 to 34) of allowing doctors to keep terminally ill patients heavily sedated until death takes them. The legislation now goes to the Upper House or Senate.

President Hollande’s Socialist government supported the bill, which seems to be a neat way around permitting outright euthanasia. It gives terminally ill people, at their own request, the right to “deep, continuous sedation until death”, but only when their condition is life-threatening in the short term. It will also force doctors to follow end-of-life instructions expressed by the patients themselves or written in advance.

The Bill won’t stop anti-euthanasia protesters from accusing the government of introducing euthanasia via the back door. But it seems to us an extremely neat solution to those final few days that can so often be agonising and demeaning.