French MPs vote to make it illegal to encourage a person to abandon medical care

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French MPs vote to make it illegal to encourage a person to abandon medical care
French MPs will debate the proposal on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

French MPs have voted in favour of creating a criminal offence to 'incite or encourage' a person to abandon medical care, in a move aimed at targeting a growing number of alternative health practitioners.


French MPs voted on Wednesday to adopt a bill that will create a a délit (lower-level criminal office) of 'encouraging a person to abandon or abstain from medical care'. 

The crime would be punishable by one year's imprisonment and a fine of €30,000. There is also an aggravated version allowing for up to three years' imprisonment and a fine of €45,000 'when the encouragement is followed by action.'

The bill passed with 104 votes in favour and 65 against. It will return to the senate for another debate and vote on April 3rd.

The proposal was initially rejected by the Senate before being reintroduced to the lower house, and it is intended to target alternative health practitioners who tell their clients not to seek conventional healthcare for serious conditions including cancer and kidney failure.


The bill is backed by the Union nationale des associations de défense des familles et de l'individu victimes de sectes (National union of associations for the defence of families and individuals victims of cults).

It hopes to target the growing number of largely internet-based practitioners who set themselves up as experts in health or well-being, and encourage clients to abstain from or abandon medical care - this constituency has seen a sharp rise since the pandemic when conspiracy theories about vaccines became widespread.

The French media outlet France Info spoke to people whose family members had been told by fake naturopaths to avoid seeking treatment for cancer, and a woman who stopped dialysis on the advice of an internet wellness expert.

Who supported it?

Generally, the bill was supported by the centrist groups (Renaissance, MoDem, and Horizons), as well as the left-wing socialist and green party members and the independent Liot group.

Members of the far-left La France Insoumise and far-right Rassemblement national (RN) voted against, while the centre-right Les Républicains abstained.


"There are gurus, influencers and so-called carers who are criminals because they promote practices that kill," Sabrina Agresti-Roubache, member of President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance party, said during debates.

Meanwhile, RN MP Thomas Ménagé described the bill as "an attack on civil liberties and dangerous for freedom of expression and scientific debate".


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Anita Cornwell 2024/02/15 07:45
If a person is dying of an incurable disease and decides to stop arduous treatment and let nature take its course, will anyone who supports their decision be liable to prosecution?
Catherine R 2024/02/13 20:56
I think MPs should be concentrating on the scandalous lack of GPS, instead of witch hunts against alternative health practitioners and other perceived baddies, , I’ve been searching for four years as apparently my city is a medical desert, 25 percent of us without a doctor!

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