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French woman denied euthanasia died of overdose on barbiturates
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14:53, March 28, 2008

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Chantal Sebire, a tumor-stricken French teacher whose request for euthanasia had been denied, died of an overdose of barbiturates, a French prosecutor said Thursday.

Sebire, 52, was terminally-ill and severely disfigured with an incurable form of tumor which also caused her to lose her eyesight and her senses of smell and taste.

She asked for euthanasia but was denied it by a court on March 17.

Two days later, her body was found at her home in eastern France.

"The presence in the blood of a toxic concentration of barbiturate, Pentobarbital... (is) three times the lethal level for this product," prosecutor Jean-Pierre Alacchi said Thursday.

Pentobarbital is commonly used for animal euthanasia and can be legally prescribed for assisted human suicide in Switzerland, Belgium and the U.S. state of Oregon.

However, the drug is forbidden in French pharmacies. French police are investigating how Sebire obtained it.

This case led to national debates on euthanasia in France.

French legislation adopted in 2005 allows families to request that life-support equipment for a terminally-ill patient be switched off, but does not allow a doctor to take action to end a patient's life.


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