bioethics

Bioethics: has opinion changed?

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As the "Etats Généraux de la Bioéthique", organized by the French National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE), opens on January 18, and will precede the revision of the law, Ifop and the European Bioethics Forum, in partnership with the newspaper La Croix, have questioned the French people about their views on bioethical issues: LDCs, GPA, end of life, assisted suicide, genetic modification of human embryos, etc. The figures are astonishing in their scope. Has opinion changed?
 
Ahe survey conducted by Ifop for La Croix and the European Bioethics Forum confirms the consent of a large part of society to subjects such as the extension of medically assisted procreation (MAP) to couples of women (60 %), whereas just under a quarter, or 24 %, were in favour of MAP in 1990 and of women alone (57 %), a figure that has changed little over this period. (1) an evolution of the law on the end of life (89 %), or, even more surprisingly, the lifting of the ban on surrogate motherhood (GPA): 64 % are in favour of the use of surrogate mother, including 18 % "in all cases" and 46 % "for medical reasons only", whereas surrogacy is already authorised in the Netherlands, England and Greece.
Figures that draw the image of a liberal society on "important" issues, as 89 % of the French also recognize.
 
"The old structuring matrix of society, which was very clearly Christian and Catholic in inspiration, is crumbling at a rapid rate, says Jérôme Fourquet, Director of the Ifop's Opinion Department. According to him, the results of the survey reveal "the anchoring of an anthropological shift in French society, thanks to the de-Christianisation of society and the rise of individualism". The pollster also admits to being astonished at the rate at which opinion has evolved over the last few years on these subjects.
 
Beyond its rapid pace, the evolution is marked by a domino effect Even if the changes are very rapid, society does not change all at once, but in stages. Public opinion embraced marriage for same-sex couples two or three years after accepting the Pacs. Likewise, the French expressed support for adoption by same-sex couples some time after "marriage for all" was enshrined in law. »
 
Another lesson from this survey is the great homogeneity of the society in its responses. "The older ones are a little more reticent, details Jérôme Fourquet. But there are no major cleavages either between generations or according to political preferences. This confirms that this is a groundswell. »
 
What about practicing Catholics? The survey shows that they remain slightly less favourable to GPA (46 %), PMA (35 %) and the evolution of the law on the end of life (72 %) than the rest of the French, i.e. 10 to 20 points less. "Even if there is a margin of error of 5 to 6 points, we cannot say that Catholics are totally at odds with French society in this matter, says Jérôme Fourquet.
Emmanuel Macron had addressed bioethical issues, in particular those of 'medically assisted procreation' (MAP) and 'end of life': referring to 'MAP for all', he had stated that he had 'made commitments during the presidential campaign', but also commitments of 'method'. He wished to prevent "French society from being divided" and recalled that religions were invited to intervene on the occasion of the revision of the "bioethics law" "to enlighten this debate, to bring it to life". ( Source: AFP, 22/09/2017).

 
The only islands of resistance that emerge are free and anonymous gamete donation, two fundamental principles that most respondents want to retain: 90 % of the French believe that free gamete donation (oocytes or sperm) should be retained. 85 % also defend the anonymity of donors. Without realising that these may be called into question by the potential opening of MAP to single people and female couples: given the shortage of sperm, this extension could encourage donors to agree to pay.
 
Moreover, 80 % of the respondents were in favour of genetic modification of human embryos but "to cure the most serious diseases before birth": 78 % rejected the use of genetic manipulation "to improve certain characteristics of unborn children (obesity, eye colour, etc.)", for example.
 
A large segment of society, 89 % of the respondents, also spoke in favour of changing the law on end of life: for 47 %, euthanasia should be legalized, for 24 %, euthanasia and assisted suicide should be legalized, and for 18 %, assisted suicide should be legalized. In contrast, 11 %s felt that current legislation should not be changed.
 
Mentalities are changing ... But watch out for the polls! As the alert Jean Léonetti, former deputy and rapporteur of the 2011 bioethics laws, warns (2)on France Inter today: "Let's beware of polls; let's accept in-depth debates instead". And to the question "Are you surprised by the shift in opinion? "...he considers this study to be a far cry from the true feelings: "Polling opinion is very different from thinking. If all that is possible is desirable, there is no longer any question of bioethics".
"We need common rules, which are value-laden. The vulnerability of the human being and the protective role of society must be taken into account".
 
To come back to the problem of the end of life, in Belgium, for example, in 2014 and 2015, "62.8 % of euthanasia performed were for people over 70 years of age". The proportion of deaths by euthanasia has increased in retirement homes, from 5% in 2002 to 12% in 2015. A Belgian mutual insurance company, La Mutualité Chrétienne, warns against a society where people no longer find "the meaning of their existence around and within them", leading to "life fatigue".
Luc Van Gorp, head of this mutual insurance company, states that the "over-medicalisation of care", although bringing real "relief to those around them on a daily basis", generates "strong social isolation of the ageing population". However, he explains, "it seems that for our seniors, life expectancy is less important than quality of life.
According to Geert Messiaen, Secretary General of the Mutualités libérales, "any investment in health care must be aimed at keeping people healthy for as long as possible". "Age has no place in this equation. "He is concerned about the growing inability of the population to "properly accommodate the ageing of the population", as financial resources are not keeping pace, forcing institutions to concentrate "exclusively on the technical aspects of care, to the detriment of relational care".
He predicts a future without the elderly. The reason for this is the "weariness and even despair" of the "surviving generations" who will demand "preventive euthanasia".
This is why Luc Van Gorp calls for "getting out of the logic of over-medicalization" which leads to a risk of therapeutic over-zealousness. He invites people to "let go" and encourages families and the neighbourhood to "cultivate social ties". (Source: European Institute of Bioethics, 13/12/2017)
 
A man can't be prevented."
Albert Camus, The first man 
 
Why do we set limits on ourselves? Is it a question of morals, human ideals or circumstances? To "have an intelligent heart" according to Finkielkraut, but according to Kant it is not morality that produces freedom but the opposite.
Man, it has been said, is the only being who can stop himself. In reality, animals prevent themselves, with few exceptions, from killing each other between individuals of the same species, something that man, precisely, does not know how to do...
Man is therefore not reasonable, but only educated, and today prey to the "excessiveness" denounced for example by Jean-François Mattéi in The sense of immoderation (2009).
Is it sufficient to define freedom only by impediment? Desire, action and even transgression are all necessary attitudes to make democracy live.
As Pierre-Henri Gouyon and Miguel Benasayag demonstrate in their book "Fabriquer le vivant? » (3)Progress, a promise that man had made to himself, was first thought of since culture, as emancipation. Could the promise become a threat? Rousseau was already saying that with progress, if we know what we gain, we do not know what we lose. 
 
 
Source IFOP survey for La Croix and the European Bioethics Forum conducted among a representative sample of 1,010 people aged 18 and over (self-administered questionnaire online from 8 to 11 December 2017).
 
(1) It is known that in France, and in the absence of official figures, the main associations in favour of the legalisation of GPA (Clara, ADFH - Association des familles homoparentales - and APGL - Association des parents gays et lesbiens) estimate that approximately 370 couples or singles will have had babies through this practice in 2017, for a total that "could exceed 500" children. The babies come mainly from the United States, where the practice is legal in 45 out of 50 states, Canada, and to a lesser extent from Ukraine, Russia and Greece (Source : genethique.org)
 
To go further:
 
(2)    Read Jean Léonetti's interview for La Croix of January 3, 2018
 
- Book "My Origins: A Matter of State" by Audrey Kermalvezen
- Book" Other than being or beyond essence." - La responsabilité pour autrui d'Emmanuel Levinas, 1991 - Edition Le Livre de poche (
 
(3) Book "Make the living? » by Pierre-Henri Gouyon and Miguel Benasayag - Edition La Découverte, 2012
 

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