When It Comes To Assisted Suicide, Not This Pig

A flood of visitors came to the blog yesterday, carried here on the tide of two search terms: Chantal Sebire. I didn’t know what that was about, so I searched with those terms as well. I quickly learned that Chantal Sebire is a French woman who is my age who wants legal permission to end her life with a doctor’s assistance. She is severely disfigured from a malignant tumor in her face, and now she is blind. Maybe “blind” was the search connection to my blog. Then I guessed that her name appeared in a headline in one of the RSS feeds on the sidebar. By the time I checked that, the headline was gone.

Here it is again, for the record: French court rejects disfigured woman’s euthanasia plea | France 24.

Maybe the search engines were telling me something. Maybe they have more intuition than I know. Euthanasia is something I’ve thought about deeply. I’ve faced more than my share of end-of-life decisions. I’ve written about it, but I haven’t blogged about it. If you landed here after searching for Chantal Sebire, for whatever reason, I don’t have any easy or absolute answers. If you want to know how I’ve struggled with end-of-life questions, read my 2003 memoir, Not This Pig.

Here’s the lead of the AFP wire story that ran yesterday on France 24:

A French court on Monday rejected a request from a 52-year-old severely disfigured former schoolteacher for the right to die, in a case that has stirred much emotion in France, a judicial source said.

The high court in Dijon, eastern France, decided to side with the prosecution which argued that current legislation does not allow Chantal Sebire’s doctor to prescribe lethal drugs.

In her appeal to the court, Sebire said she did not want to endure further pain and subject herself to an irreversible worsening of her condition. She asked the court to allow her doctor to help her end her life.

A mother of three who lives in the Bourgogne region of eastern France, Sebire drew a strong outpour of sympathy when she appealed in a television interview last month for the right to “depart peacefully”.

Before-and-after pictures of the woman, her face severely deformed, have been featured in the press and her account of frightened children who run away at the sight of her has drawn sympathy.

Sebire learnt in 2002 that she had developed an esthesioneuroblastoma, an uncommon malignant tumour in the nasal cavity, which she said has led to “atrocious” suffering.

“In 2000, I lost the sense of smell and taste … and I lost my sight in October 2007,” she said in the television interview.

“One would not allow an animal to go through what I have endured,” she said before urging President Nicolas Sarkozy to intervene and grant her request.

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