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11.09.2020 Europe

Dying Frenchman drops starvation plan to continue fight for right to die

By Paul Myers - RFI
RFI/Maud Charlet
LISTEN SEP 11, 2020
RFI/Maud Charlet

Terminally-ill Frenchman Alain Cocq has vowed to stay alive to continue his fight to raise awareness over the country's right-to-die laws. The 57-year-old's pledge comes a week after he announced plans to livestream his death – a bid that was blocked by Facebook. 

After going back on his decision, the activist and campaigner for rights of people with handicaps, said he wanted assisted dying to be at the centre of the political agenda. 

“I don't want to go through again what I've just been through,” he told the online site Civicio. “I don't want other people to experience this level of pain. 

“We're just asking for the right to...die with dignity. I'm going to keep on fighting for that. I'm going to commit myself to ensuring that every candidate in the next presidential election takes a stand," he added.

Untreatable illness

Cocq suffers from a genetic condition that causes the walls of the arteries to stick together. There are only three other known cases of the condition.

He was first diagnosed at the age of 23, after falling down a flight of stairs. Doctors at the time told him he had two weeks to live.

More than three decades later, he was blocked by Facebook from livestreaming his final days.

The social network pulled the plug saying its terms and conditions did not allow the site to show suicide attempts.

Rejection

Last week Cocq received a letter from French President Emmanuel Macron in response to a request for deep sedation. Macron said it was impossible to allow because active assistance in dying flouts France's end-of-life laws.

Those rules, updated in 2016, only authorise deep sedation for patients with “short term” life-threatening conditions, which Cocq is unable to prove.  

Before going into hospital, Cocq was unable to leave his bed in his apartment in Dijon.

His plight has been compared with that of Vincent Lambert, who died last year after being artificially kept alive for 11 years following a car accident.

Lambert's case exposed deep divisions over the right to die.

(With AFP)

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