Speech of Jean-Luc Romero - Dignity in Dying – London – May 21st


Speech of Jean-Luc Romero - Dignity in Dying – London – May 21st

Speech of Jean-Luc Romero
Dignity in Dying – London – May 21st (en savoir plus)
 
 
Dear friends,
 
I am delighted to be at DID’s Annual Meeting today. Thank you for inviting me here to speak.
 
As was said, I am the president of ADMD-France (Right to die in Dignity – France). ADMD-France was founded in 1980 to get a law of Ultimate Liberty.
Our target : to gain a law in France which will permit the universal access to palliative care and, at the same time, which will legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Now, ADMD-France has more than 50.000 members. I am pleased to say that over 90% of French Citizens are in favor of the law that we want, particularly the young generation and I am happy to be accompanied by the assistant General Secretary of ADMD, Christophe Michel, who is also responsible for the youth commission and the youngest board member, which our society has ever had. He is 26 years old.
 
 
I have divided my short presentation into three main parts.
Firstly, a few words about the current French law concerning the End of the Life.
Secondly, the campaigns we have done in France to get the support of the politicians and the reaction from our opponents.
Finally, I’ll tell you what I think - I hope! - will happen in France this autumn.
 
My presence here, as with Rowena Ironside during our Paris meeting at the Hotel de Ville in January 2013, shows the similarity of our societies and how identical our struggle is.
 
It is a struggle for human rights, for equality in facing Death, for compassion.
 
We have a lot to learn from each other. Your sense of organization and your legendary discipline, our frenzy and our near permanent rebellion. Our main difference is that our king has been beheaded and that your queen wears many hats.
 
Allow me now, after this short introduction, to look at my first point and describe the situation in our country.
 
As a consequence of the « affaire Vincent Humbert » which was named after the young man, who was totally paralyzed as the result of a car accident and whose mother helped him to die, the French right-wing government passed a law in 2005.
This law allowed the stopping of all artificial prolonging of life and allowed for a deep sedation, with a massive use of painkillers and withdrawal of food and hydration to let a person die under hypocritical and terrible conditions. This had no intention of bringing about death, which would only come as a consequence. These conditions are extremely very cruel because life can go on for another 3 weeks.
 
I would like to say that, although it might come as a surprise, right-wing MPs who call themselves liberal, are the least favorable to a change in legislation and the most favorable to the pro-life movements.
 
Another well-known example is from 2008. A fifty year old woman, Chantal Sébire, appeared in the media with her face visibly suffering from cancer of the sinus. The newly-elected government (still right-wing) refused to admit that the 2005 law was not adequate and just had the legislation re-evaluated by its author.
 
Of course, the re-evaluating author was perfectly happy with his law which prevailed. So, nothing changed !
 
So let’s move on to my second point. The campaigns and the reactions.
In 2011, a few months before the presidential and legislative elections of spring 2012, the board of ADMD understood that there was a possibility of change with a sympathetic progressive government winning the elections. Maybe there would finally be a possibility of having a law for this ultimate freedom that we are battling for, a law that would allow everybody to choose his or her way of ending their lives.
 
In November 2011, at the same time as we launched the fourth World Day for the Right to Die, we also started a media campaign in the press, with a video spot on TV, posters and visual support directed at all the MPs. This campaign showed a woman, who was lying on a hospital bed and connected to a life-support machine with this wording: “94 % of the French are in favour of euthanasia and we still have no law.” 
 
This campaign had some success because it showed that practically all our fellow-citizens support us. Our opponents came out of the woods and fired their attacks. Unfortunately for them, they did not know that our real campaign had not even begun...We were saving it for March 2012.
 
In the meantime, in the last months of 2012, we opened a blog in which we asked each MP- of both chambers - and each candidate to the presidential elections to give his or her opinion about this issue. We then published a copy of their answer to our written question on the blog. A huge amount of work was needed to get all this information together, but it gave us the essential basis for each Frenchman to know how each candidate was going to vote for our law.
 
Additionally, in 2012, on March 24th, we arranged a great public demonstration on the Place de la République, during which every candidate to the presidential election could voice his or her opinion on the issue of the End of Life.
 
It was a great success on a beautiful, sunny spring day...All the candidates either came or were represented.
 
This knowledge we acquired of the different positions of every candidate allowed us to launch our second big communication action. Nicolas Sarkozy, the departing president, Marine Le Pen, the extreme Right candidate and François Bayrou, the Christian Democrat candidate, were shown on their death-beds (thanks to a photo-montage). This was a shock campaign, as shocking as death can be under the deplorable conditions that we know in France.
 
There was a huge amount of reaction. Top story around the world. Foreign media (Russian, Mexican, Canadian, African) took on the visual elements and sent journalists to interview us.
The whole French political class took position - for or against this campaign. And without even having imagined it to be possible - we brought them to where we wanted; that is, to take a clear position for or against euthanasia.
It was the first time that this issue had become the heart of the debate of a presidential campaign. It became François Hollande's 21st proposal whereas Nicolas Sarkozy totally rejected any change of the present law. Once François Hollande was elected, the socialist candidates adopted this proposal.
 
 
Last July, François Hollande created a commission to think about the End of Life in France. In December 2012 it came out with its conclusions. The President promised a Government bill for June.
 
This is how far we have come and how we managed to arrive here.
 
Unfortunately, we still have the reactionary and conservative forces opposing us.
Firstly, the strong lobby of Medical Professors, those who help people to die but do not want a legal framework to tell them when and how to do it. In addition, the ultra-catholic lobby, who promise you Heaven but won't allow you to go there when your time has come. And this rich and powerful lobby does not give up easily and has still not given up. We just saw it happen with the debate about marriage between people of the same sex.
 
Ok, that covers my second part.
Finally, let’s look at my hopes for the future.
A few weeks ago, the conservative MPs were cheeky enough to come out with a law proposal just striving to legalize what had already been legalized in 2005. They are hoping it will pass thanks to the lack of knowledge of most MPs on this issue. They want to give the impression that we have advanced but in reality we are stagnating.
We had to fight back by writing to every single MP with the help of our lawyers and inviting some of them for breakfast at the Parliament to talk to them.
 
Unfortunately, the controversy caused by the legalization of same-sex marriage will delay the political calendar which the President had announced and I am afraid that the Government bill which was supposed to come out in June will be postponed till September or October, after the summer break. But, I suppose that is not too long a time to wait.
 
I will continue : ADMD will continue to remind the President of his campaign promises. Every day that passes without this law of freedom that you and I are asking for, brings about unnecessary suffering and absurd tragedies.
 
I am full of confidence, but maintain my high level of vigilance.
 
Britain and France have a long intertwined history. Rivals, but more often allies. On this important human rights issue, I hope we can both work together to ensure changes in our laws sooner rather than later. The success of one, benefits the other – but let’s hope, they can both occur at the same time !
 
France and The UK will have a law in the near future. Of this, I am sure!
 
In conclusion, I leave you with just this last thought.
In both our countries more than 80% of the population want the legislation to change, so I say to Mr Cameron: “Mr Prime Minister, It’s time to act” and to Mr Hollande: “Monsieur le president, A vous d’agir, Mr President, it’s time to act!
 
Thank you very much for your attention.

Speech of Jean-Luc Romero - Dignity in Dying – London – May 21st

Livres | Discours | Hubert, l'amour d'une vie | Biographical statement of Jean-Luc ROMERO | Jour après jour : des moments forts en photos


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