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Autopsy on tumor woman proves inconclusive

PARIS, France (CNN) — An autopsy conducted on a French woman who had suffered from disfiguring facial tumors and begged for the right to end her life did not conclude whether she died of natural causes, a French prosecutor said Friday.

The prosecutor in Dijon, France told a news conference that it was unclear whether Chantal Sebire died of natural or unnatural causes.

He said the investigation will continue and more tests will be done, but results are not expected soon.

Sebire, 52, was found dead Wednesday night.

For nearly eight years, she had endured esthesioneuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that spawned tumors in her nasal passages and sinuses, distorting her face and causing her nose and eyes to bulge.

Sebire had described the pain as excruciating and said morphine and other painkillers didn’t work.

It is not only the face. Some of my bones are eaten into. I don’t have any more upper and lower jaws, she said in an interview last month, according to an Associated Press translation.

At the moment we don’t know by what miracle my teeth are still holding. My gums are falling apart. You see the deformation of my face. It compresses inside, she said.

Sebire, from Dijon, eastern France, insisted there was no reason her doctors should not be permitted to help her commit suicide.

I ask to be helped to die because I don’t want this tumor to have the last word. I didn’t fight for seven and a half years to have it having the last word, she said in the February interview.

Assisted suicide is illegal in France. The law permits only passive euthanasia — removing feeding and hydration tubes when a person is in a coma, or inducing a coma and then removing the tubes — not actively assisting in someone’s death.

Sebire’s lawyer had tried to convince a French court that it was barbaric to put her through the ordeal of dying slowly in an artificial coma, something that could take up to two weeks while her three children looked on in anguish.

The court turned down the appeal Monday.

Sebire also wrote a letter to French President Nicolas Sarkozy appealing for help, but he responded by suggesting top doctors should re-examine her for a second opinion.

Her plight and the questions it raised caused so much public debate in France that Sebire’s death was front-page news in France.

Right-to-die advocates believe French laws must be changed to take cases like Sebire’s into account. But France is a nominally Catholic country, and many others — including the Church — disagree about the need for new legislation.

France’s prime minister and its health and justice ministers also opposed new legislation. E-mail to a friend

CNN’s Jim Bittermann contributed to this report.

Autopsy on tumor woman proves inconclusive – found here.

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March 21, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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