Law on Patients’ Rights and End of Life

The Law of 22 April 2005 on the rights of the sick and the end of life , known as the Leonetti Law , is a French law adopted on 12 April 2005, promulgated on 22 April 2005 and published in the Official Journal on 23 April 2005. This law is Promulgated as a result of the law of 4 March 2002 on the rights of the sick .

In 15 articles, this law modifies several provisions of the Code of Public Health and the Code of Social Action and Families . It bears the name of the deputy Jean Leonetti who proposed it to the vote of the Parliament, with the explicit agreement of the government.


The purpose of the text is to avoid euthanasia practices and also to prevent therapeutic stubbornness (termed “unreasonable obstinacy” in the treatment of patients at the end of life). It allows the patient to ask, within a defined framework, the cessation of a medical treatment too heavy 1 . This can be expressed in particular through advance directives or through the use of a trusted person . At the same time, this law proposes to develop the palliative care given to end-of-life patients, in order to take into account their suffering .

A clear distinction is drawn between medical treatment, which can be interrupted if it is judged to be disproportionate to the expected improvement, and care , the continuation of which is considered essential to preserve the dignity of the patient.

“Health professionals are using every means at their disposal to ensure that everyone lives a life worthy of death. If the physician finds that he can not relieve the suffering of a person in the advanced or terminal stage of a serious and incurable disease, whatever the cause, by applying treatment to him that may have the effect Secondary education to shorten his life, he must inform the patient, […] the person of trust […], the family or, failing that, a close relative. “( CSP Article L1110-5  [ archive ] ).
“These acts must not be pursued by unreasonable obstinacy. When they appear unnecessary, disproportionate or having no other effect than the mere artificial maintenance of life, they may be suspended or not undertaken. In this case, the physician safeguards the dignity of the dying person and ensures the quality of his life by providing the care referred to in Article L. 1110-10. “( CSP Article L1110-5  [ archive ] ).

Unanimity in the National Assembly

First reading in the National Assembly November 30, 2004, the Law on patients’ rights and end of life becomes the only law of the V th Republic to be voted to the unanimity of the votes cast 2 with 548 votes for And 0 against 551 deputies present 3 .

Legislative developments

A draft law on this subject is envisaged in June 2013 by the government 4 on the basis of the Sicard report . A bill creating new rights for the sick and the end-of-life people is tabled by MEPs Leonetti and Claeys as from 27 February 2013. This text is the subject of several amendments before being, on 25 April 2013, referred to committee 5 . On 2 February 2016, the law, known as the “small law”, was finally enacted by the National Assembly after long debates. The Public Health Code incorporates the amendments made to this Act, including palliative care , advance directives and the person of trust . 6


Related articles

  • Euthanasia
  • Report by Sicard
  • Advance Directive
  • Trusted person
  • Palliative care

Notes and references

  1. ↑ “Giving the patient death is illegal”  [ archive ] , interview of Jean Leonetti in South West, August 12, 2011
  2. ↑ “Justice orders the survival of Vincent Lambert”  [ archive ] , article of Reuters of January 16, 2014.
  3. ↑ 3 abstentions: “” End of life “: the unanimous deputies”  [ archive ] , article of the Nouvel Observateur of 3 December 2004.
  4. ↑ LIBERATION.FR with AFP, ” Euthanasia: the Elysee promises a bill in June [ archive ] , on Libé , (Accessed December 19, 2012 )
  5. ↑  [ archive ]
  6. ↑ ” End of life: the law says?  ”  [ Archive ] , on (accessed June 3, 2016 )