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Woman denied euthanasia found dead

Latest update : 2008-03-20

Chantal Sébire, a 52-year-old Frenchwoman suffering from an incurable tumour, was found dead on Wednesday. She had failed in her bid to set a legal precedent in France for patients seeking euthanasia. (Report: P.Hall)

Chantal Sébire, a 52 year old Frenchwoman suffering from an incurable tumour, was found dead Wednesday. She had failed on Monday in her bid to set a legal precedent in France for patients seeking euthanasia.

She had failed on Monday in her bid to
set a legal precedent in France for patients seeking medical
help to end their own lives.
 

A court in the eastern city of Dijon ruled that Chantal
Sebire, 52, could not have a doctor help her die because it
would breach both the code of medical ethics and the law, under
which assisted suicide is a crime.
 

"Ms Sebire's request, which is understandable in human
terms, cannot succeed in law," the court said in its ruling.
 

"While Ms. Sebire's physical deterioration deserves
compassion, under French law the judge must reject the request."
 

Although active euthanasia is illegal in France, a 2005 law
allows doctors to withhold treatment with a patient's consent in
certain circumstances.
 

Sebire, whose face is painfully bloated and distorted by the
rare tumour growing in her sinuses, sought permission for
assisted suicide in the hope of establishing a precedent.
 

The case has renewed the euthanasia debate in France. More
than 2,000 doctors and nurses signed a petition last year saying
they had helped patients to die and appealing for a change in
the law to allow euthanasia.
 

Sebire's doctors say she would fall into a coma and die if
she stopped taking medication to deal with the rare tumour, but
she insisted on going to court to try to secure the right to an
assisted suicide.
 

Active euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium,
Switzerland and Luxembourg, but French courts regularly rule
against doctors who administer lethal drugs to end life,
although they are usually spared prison.
 

Opponents of euthanasia, including the Roman Catholic
Church, say the sanctity of life overrides all other factors.
Many also say a right to kill patients could easily be abused.
 

Sebire said she may now seek an assisted suicide elsewhere.
 

"I simply wanted to show that I was fighting to raise
awareness, and in this fight I followed the law to the end," she
told France 5 television on Sunday.
 

"I now know how to obtain what I need, and if I cannot
obtain it in France, I will obtain it elsewhere."

Date created : 2008-03-19

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