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Frenchman to livestream death in right-to-die case

Loïc Vennin

Agence France-Presse

Dijon, France  /  Sat, September 5, 2020  /  10:30 am
Frenchman to livestream death in right-to-die case

In this file photo taken on August 12, 2020 Alain Cocq, suffering from an orphan desease of the blood, rests on his medical bed in his flat in Dijon, northeastern France. (AFP/Philippe Desmazes)

A Frenchman suffering from an incurable condition who plans to livestream his death on social media said Saturday he had begun refusing all food, drink and medicine, after President Emmanuel Macron turned down his request for euthanasia.

Alain Cocq, who suffers from a rare condition which causes the walls of his arteries to stick together, said he believed he had less than a week to live and would broadcast his death from Saturday morning.

"The road to deliverance begins and believe me, I am happy," he wrote on Facebook shortly after midnight in a post announcing he had "finished his last meal".

"I know the days ahead are going to be difficult but I have made my decision and I am calm," he added.

He had written to Macron asking to be given a substance that would allow him to die in peace but the president wrote back to him explaining this was not allowed under French law.

Cocq, 57, has used his plight to draw attention to the situation of terminally ill patients in France who are unable to be allowed to die in line with their wishes.

"Because I am not above the law, I am not able to comply with your request," Macron said in a letter to Cocq, which the patient published on his Facebook page.

"I cannot ask anyone to go beyond our current legal framework... Your wish is to request active assistance in dying which is not currently permitted in our country," said Macron.

Read also: German court scraps ban on professional assisted suicide

'With profound respect'

In order to show France the "agony" caused by the law in its current state, Cocq will broadcast the end of his life -- which he believed would come in "four to five days" --  on his Facebook page, he told AFP.

From midnight Friday he plans to stop taking any food, hydration and treatment, except painkillers, a support group said.

Cocq said he hoped his struggle would be remembered and "go down in the long term" as a step towards changing the law.

Macron said in his letter that "with emotion, I respect your action." And the president added a handwritten postscript, saying: "With all my personal support and profound respect."

An Elysee official told AFP that Macron wanted to hail Cocq's commitment to the rights of the handicapped.

Right-to-die cases have long been an emotive issue in France.

Most polarizing was the case of Vincent Lambert, who was left in a vegetative state after a traffic accident in 2008 and died in July last year after doctors removed life support following a long legal battle.

The case divided the country as well as Lambert's own family, with his parents using every legal avenue to keep him alive but his wife and nephew insisting he must be allowed to die.

A French court in January acquitted the doctor who switched off the life support systems in a verdict that was a formality after prosecutors said he "perfectly respected his legal obligations".

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