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Case of Chantal Sebire pushes euthanasia debate

Latest update : 2008-03-13

The case of Chantal Sebire, a 52-year-old mother who suffers from an untreatable facial tumour and wishes to die, has brought euthanasia to the forefront of legal debates. Warning these images are very graphic.


The 2005 law that governs how the French may die tends to let things take their course, without going so far as to allow doctors to actively practice euthanasia. But this is exactly what Chantal Sebire wants to do. The 52-year-old mother has a facial tumor that cannot be operated on.


“We have asked the president of the Dijon courts to allow a doctor to procure and administer the necessary medicine to bring about a dignified and serene death,” declared the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity (ADMD), which lobbies for the legal right for doctors to ‘actively aid’ patients in their deaths.


The 2005 law stipulates that doctors can “decide to limit or stop a treatment if it is useless, disproportionate, or has no other use than to artificially prolong life.”


These doctors must take into account the patient’s opinion, or that of his family or designated decision maker, or – in some cases – written instructions if they have been prepared ahead of time.


“In any circumstances, the doctor must attempt to alleviate the suffering of the patient with the appropriate means, and he must also assist morally,” and “abstain from any unreasonable action,” according to the law.


Any person who has reached the age of majority can have how they wish to be treated at the end of their life recorded legally in case they are unable to express themselves. These directions can be cancelled at any time.

Date created : 2008-03-13