The operation was carefully prepared for several weeks. In the early morning of October 15, a hundred people, throughout France, saw knocking on their door police and gendarmes. Purpose of these searches, which mobilized 300 police forces? The seizure of 134 vials of pentobarbital, a veterinary product classified as a barbiturate whose ingestion can cause death. At the center of attention of the gendarmes of the Central Office for Combating Environmental and Public Health (Oclaesp), an association, "Ultimate Freedom", whose premises were searched for eight hours.
"This is a big operation related to the debate on euthanasia, confirms a police source. We acted quickly because our priority was to recover products. But on the merits, the investigation is far from over. " The investigations should still extend to " several months ". At the origin of this operation: a report from the US authorities, after a similar search conducted at an online merchant, who was shipping Nembutal (trade name pentobarbital) by declaring it as a cosmetic product.
For the "free exercise of suicide in non-violent conditions"
The seizure of these bottles provokes contrasting reactions in the three main associations advocating the legalization of euthanasia in France and reveals real differences in approach. They even fractured the movement, in the late 2000s, some of the activists leaving the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity (ADMD) to create Ultimate Freedom. "To our knowledge, about forty memberss of Ultimate Freedom, mostly seniors, were raided "explains Claude Hury, the president of this association, former secretary general of the ADMD.
However, it defends itself to be at the origin of any traffic. "When members ask us the question, we tell them that there are all the ways on the Internet to buy products and to have addresses. But nothing more. Otherwise we would fall under the law "she insists. Any provocation to suicide is in fact punishable by three years in prison and a fine of € 45,000. His movement still openly argues for the "Free exercise of suicide in non-violent conditions" and his president wants to go "Further" than those who propose to legalize euthanasia for patients suffering from an incurable pathology.
Among those raided in mid-October are members of "Choix", an association created in 2018. " At the age of 85, one of them spent more than three hours at the police station explaining why she had such products.regrets the president of the association, Nathalie Debernardi. I can only be in solidarity with these people. It's a question of individual freedom, beyond the state of incurable disease. "
A speech that marks an evolution from the previous positions of the association, the latter having declared last October against open access to all "Lethal products without real and serious medical cause without hope of cure or end of life state". This text has since disappeared from the association's website. "It could happen that we direct our members to a doctor close to the association when they are people who want to get products. But this is by no means a proposal we make ", says Nathalie Debernardi.
From the freedom to commit suicide to the right to commit suicide
If he says "A bit stunned by the extent of police mobilization to seize products in old people", ADMD President Jean-Luc Romero is holding a rather different speech: "I can understand the people who do it, but we really do not recommend the absorption of these products, because we prefer to direct those who wish to Switzerland and Belgium. Moreover, I do not defend the right to die in all cases. We do not commit suicide for depression, for example. " It nevertheless questions the French law which "Obliges", according to him, "People to order such products" because of the ban on euthanasia.
"This case reveals the ambiguity of these movements, who hesitate between the request for euthanasia, which would be reserved for the sick, and the right to suicidesays Dr. Bernard Devalois, a palliative care doctor at the Protestant Health Center Bordeaux-Bagatelle. Today, if the freedom to commit suicide exists, it is not a right. "
A doctor indicted for manslaughter
A doctor has been indicted for causing the death of five elderly people by prescribing midazolam, a sedative used in particular in palliative care to relieve pain, announced Friday, November 29 the prosecutor's office of Le Havre confirming a newspaper information Paris Normandy. The doctor admitted to having prescribed and provided midazolam, which he obtained from his wife, anesthetist in a clinic, specifying "It was not part of a process of euthanasia".
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