France's lower house of Parliament has approved a bill that allows doctors to keep terminally ill patients sedated until death comes.

The proposed measure passed by a vote of 436 to 34. It will now have to be debated by the Senate.

Backed by the Socialist government, the bill stops short of recommending lethal injections and avoids the terms euthanasia or assisted suicide. The measure would give people "the right to deep, continuous sedation until death" at the patient's request, but only when their condition is life-threatening in the short term.

It would also force doctors in France to follow end-of-life instructions expressed by the patients themselves or written in advance, if they are no longer able to state their wishes.