The law, which provides that the doctor can override these directives if they are “inappropriate” to the patient’s situation, is consistent with the “safeguard of the dignity of the person” as well as his “personal freedom”, considers the Council in her decision.

This decision comes at a time when debates on the end of life are returning to the public domain. President Emmanuel Macron is considering a change in legislation, but refers the responsibility to a citizens’ convention which is to meet from December.

The Constitutional Council had been seized by the family of a patient, plunged into a coma since May after an accident and whose doctors consider the situation desperate.

The medical team wishes to stop the care – nutrition and artificial respiration -, but this decision goes against the intentions expressed by the patient in his “advance directives”.

These, which consist of a document previously written and signed by the patient, are supposed to testify to his wishes in the event that he is no longer able to express a choice.

But the law provides that the medical team, after a collegial procedure, can override if they appear “not in accordance with the medical situation” of the patient. It was on the validity of this law that the Council had to decide.

The latter considered that the legislator had played its role in providing such a way out for doctors, in particular because the patient cannot be fully able to assess his situation in advance.

The law thus aims to “ensure the safeguard of the dignity of people at the end of life”, considers the Constitutional Council, without going so far as to directly evoke the notion of therapeutic relentlessness.

He also judges that the law is sufficiently clear in evoking the case of directives “manifestly inappropriate” to the medical situation of the patient, while the defenders of the family considered these terms too vague.

“These provisions are neither imprecise nor ambiguous”, considers the Council.