By John Jalsevac

DIJON, France, March 17, 2008 ( – A mother of three who lives in the Bourgogne region of Eastern France has had her plea to be euthanized by her doctor rejected by a court in Dijon. The court ruled that French law does not permit a doctor to prescribe lethal drugs to patients.

The case of the 53-year-old woman, Chantal Sebire, has garnered widespread sympathy in France, especially since she appeared on national television and made an appeal to French President Nicholas Sarkozy to intervene on her behalf and accede to her request to be killed. The French President responded by saying that he would convene a panel of specialists to explore possibilities for the treatment of Sebire’s condition, an offer that she refused.

Sebire suffers from an extremely rare form of cancer, called esthesioneuroblastoma, which has resulted in severe disfigurement of her face, pain, and the loss of the senses of smell and sight.

“I no longer accept this enduring pain, and this protruding eye that nothing can be done about,” Sebire told RTL radio in an interview. “I want to go out celebrating, surrounded by my children, friends, and doctors before I’m put to sleep definitively at dawn.”

The magistrate who ruled against Sebire’s appeal, however, said that mere sympathy cannot be used to justify allowing doctors to prescribe lethal drugs, which contravenes French law.

“Even if the physical degeneration of Madame Sebire merits compassion, this request can only be rejected under French law,” he said.

Alex Schadenberg, the Chairman of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition – International, which is working to prevent the legalization of euthanasia worldwide, told that his organization is “concerned that Chantal Sébire will be encouraged to dehydrate herself to death, or receive assistance to kill herself, rather than being offered humane psychological and social support to enable her to live with her condition.

“The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition recognizes that Chantal is in a very vulnerable position. She needs the support of a caring community and not death.”

Schadenberg also criticized Dr. Bernard Senet, a general practitioner in Velleron and a member of the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity (ADMD), who has said that he will help Sebire end her life by assisted suicide or, as he says, the voluntary “interruption of life”.  Schadenberg says that Senet’s position towards Sebire, whose condition is not terminal, but rather chronic, demonstrates that the right to die movement is not, as is so often said, concerned only with ending the suffering of the terminally ill.

“It is interesting that the Right to Die position promotes death for incurably ill people until they have a case of a chronic condition,” he said. “The issue of euthanasia is not about physical suffering or terminal illness but about creating conditions for death on demand.”

In the meantime, however, Sebire has said that she will not appeal the court’s decision, instead indicating that she will use other means to obtain the lethal drugs necessary to kill herself.

“I now know how to get my hands on what I need and if I don’t get it in France, I will get it elsewhere,’’ she said.