Chantal Sébire

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Chantal Sébire
Born (1955-01-28)January 28, 1955
Died March 19, 2008(2008-03-19) (aged 53)
Plombières-lès-Dijon, France

Chantal Sébire (January 28, 1955 – March 19, 2008) was a retired French teacher who suffered from esthesioneuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer, and fought for the right to die through euthanasia.


Sébire lived in Plombières-lès-Dijon, near Dijon, France, and was the mother of three children. In 2000, she was diagnosed with esthesioneuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer of which only 200 cases have been reported in the past 20 years. Sébire refused any treatment at the time of her diagnosis, not wishing to take the risk of the surgery or medications.[1]

With time, the cancer burrowed through her sinuses, nasal cavities, and eye socket, leaving her face severely disfigured.[2] She also lost her senses of sight, taste, and smell[3] and suffered severe pain that she refused to relieve with morphine due to its side effects, stating, "drugs are chemicals, chemicals are poison, and I won't make matters worse by poisoning myself."[1]

Sébire first gained recognition in February 2008 when she made a public appeal to the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to allow her to die through euthanasia, stating that "One would not allow an animal to go through what I have endured."[3] On March 17, 2008, she lost her case in a French court, with the magistrate noting that while French law does allow for the removal of life-support equipment for terminally ill patients, it does not allow a doctor to take action to end a patient's life. After the decision, Sébire said "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".[4]

On March 19, 2008, she was found dead in her home.[3] An autopsy conducted on March 21, 2008 concluded that she did not die of natural causes.[5] Subsequent blood tests revealed a toxic concentration of the drug pentobarbital, a barbiturate that is not available in French pharmacies but is used elsewhere in the world for the purpose of physician assisted suicide.[6]

Sébire's death revived the debate over euthanasia in France and elsewhere around the world.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Crumley, B (2008-04-01). "French Euthanasia Case Rumbles On". Time. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  2. ^ "Woman with disfiguring cancer dies, euthanasia debate lives". USA Today. 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  3. ^ a b c "Cancer victim Chantal Sebire found dead at home". The Daily Telegraph. 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  4. ^ "France rejects right-to-die plea". BBC News. 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  5. ^ "Tumour woman's death not natural". BBC News. 2008-03-21. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  6. ^ "French woman denied euthanasia died of overdose on barbiturates". People's Daily. 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  7. ^ Lichfield, J (2008-03-21). "Mystery death of cancer patient ignites French euthanasia debate". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 

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