By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

PARIS, April 10, 2008 ( – The French media is publicizing a new medical “hard case” which is being used to promote the legalization of assisted suicide in the country.

Clara Blanc, a 31 year-old woman suffering from a rare degenerative disease, wants the right to commit suicide before she becomes a “vegetable”. She has sent a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy demanding a “referendum” on assisted suicide in France.

“At any moment I will have to be confined to a bed, completely dependentâEUR¦what sense is there in all of this? I don’t want to be a vegetable,” says Blanc in her letter to Sarkozy. She adds, “This is not my idea of dignity. I am not suicidal, I don’t know when nor how I will want to die, because I don’t know how long I will be able to bear it.”

Blanc suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes the collagen in her body to deteriorate, causing abnormal joint flexibility and skin elasticity and sensitivity, as well as arthritis and other joint and bone problems. However, what the French public is not being told is that Ehlers-Danlos, while incurable, is not generally fatal, and is compatible with a normal life span.

“Most people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome live a relatively normal life, although there may be restrictions to physical activity,” says the U.S. National Institutes of Health in an information page on the disease (

According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, other sufferers of the disease are incredulous about Blanc’s claims.. “The consequences of the disease are increasingly better treated, the rehabilitation centers provide better help for the sick and the pain centers know how to diminish it,” say victims and their families according to the publication.

However, Blanc describes a diagnosis very different from the prognosis given by medical organizations. She claims that she was told at the age of 25 that “your life stops here” and “you won’t be able to have children, you won’t be able to have a future”, according to media reports.

Despite the supposedly hopeless prognosis given to her by her doctors, Blanc admits that she currently has no intention of killing herself. She is only demanding that she have the right to kill herself, if she so wishes at an unspecified point in the future.

Blanc’s dramatized story follows on the heels of another recent case distorted by the French media, that of Chantal Sébire, a 52-year-old former schoolteacher who begged for an assisted suicide after a rare form of cancer had deformed her face and blinded her.

However, the media rarely if ever mentioned that Sébire had refused medical treatment and pain medication since the beginning of her illness, claiming that she was against the use of “chemicals” in her body, according to an expose on the case published in Time magazine earlier this month.

She continued to refuse treatment as the disease progressed, but simultaneously demanded the right to receive a lethal drug overdose from physicians, an attitude that led one French ethicist to remark that there were “several incoherent aspects” to her position.

After French authorities refused her request to authorize an assisted suicide, Sébire was found dead from a drug overdose on March 19th. The Sébire case has generated significant support in France for the legalization of assisted suicide, and the Blanc case is likely to increase pressure on lawmakers to follow the example of Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Belgium, which have decriminalized assisted suicide.

Related Links:

Mayo Clinic Info on Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Time Magazine Article on Chantal Sebire Case,8599,1726787,00.html