By Richard Balagtas

On Tuesday, March 10th, France’s parliament began debating a bill that would allow “doctors to keep terminally ill patients sedated until death comes.” This bill was introduced amidst a heated national debate concerning the legalization of euthanasia. The bill itself avoids the use of terms such as euthanasia, assisted suicide, and lethal injections, but only barely. The bill, if passed, would allow doctors to sedate patients who are terminally ill and who have only a short period of time left to live, medicating them until they die of natural causes or from starvation.

The proposed bill has ignited controversy.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has thrown his support behind it, claiming that people have a right to die peacefully.

This past week, nearly 200 protesters organized around the lower House of Parliament to denounce the bill as euthanasia in disguise. Another group of protesters, of roughly equal size, also criticized the bill this week, but for not going far enough. Doctors are also split on the issue, with some hesitant that such legislation might make it difficult to provide care in accordance with the patient’s wishes. Others believe that, because patients under terminal sedation often survive for weeks, euthanasia is a more humane option.

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