French Woman Who Sought Euthanasia Dies

A woman who suffered from a painful facial tumor and had drawn headlines across France with her quest for doctor-assisted suicide was found dead Wednesday, an official said.

Chantal Sebire, a former schoolteacher and mother of three, was found at her home in the eastern French town of Plombieres-les-Dijon, a government official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The circumstances of her death were not immediately clear. Sebire, 52, was diagnosed nearly eight years ago with esthesioneuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer.

The illness left her blind, and with no sense of smell or taste, her lawyer said. She could not use morphine to ease the intense eye pain because of the side effects.

On Monday, a court in the city of Dijon rejected Sebire's request to be allowed to receive a lethal dose of barbiturates under a doctor's supervision.

It refused the request for doctor-assisted suicide because of French law and out of concern for medical ethics.

Sebire's case revived a debate in France about the right to die. She received national attention after the media published heartbreaking before-and-after pictures that made her suffering instantly apparent.

The tumor had burrowed through her sinuses and nasal cavities, causing her nose to swell to several times its original size, and pushing one of her eyes out of her head.

Unlike in France, euthanasia is legal in both Belgium and the Netherlands, and Luxembourg is in the process of passing a law to allow it. In Switzerland, counselors or physicians can prepare the lethal dose, but patients must take it on their own.

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