Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2003 12:53 UK

Vincent Humbert's letter to Chirac

The letter written in November 2002 by handicapped Frenchman Vincent Humbert to President Chirac before his death from an overdose administered by his mother.

Mr Chirac,

My respects to you, Mr President.

My name is Vincent Humbert, I am 21. I was in a traffic accident on 24 September 2000. I spent nine months in a coma. I am currently in Helio-Marins hospital in Bercks, in the Pas-de-Calais region.

All my vital organs were affected, except for my hearing and my brain, which allows me a little comfort.

You have the right of pardon and I am asking you for the right to die
Vincent Humbert
I can move my right hand very slightly, putting pressure with my thumb on each letter of the alphabet. These letters make up words and the words form sentences. This is my only method of communication. I currently have a nurse beside me, who spells me the alphabet separating vowels and consonants.

This is how I have decided to write to you. The doctors have decided to send me to a specialised clinic. You have the right of pardon and I am asking you for the right to die.

I would like to do this clearly for myself but especially for my mother; she has left her old life to be by my side, here in Berck, working morning and evening after visiting me, seven days out of seven, without a day of rest. And all this to be able to pay the rent for her miserable studio flat.

I would like you to know that you are my last chance
Vincent Humbert
For the moment, she is still young. But in a few years, she will not be able to keep up such a pace of work, that is to say she will not be able to pay her rent and so will be obliged to go back to her apartment in Normandy.

But it is impossible to imagine my remaining here without her by my side, and I think that all patients who are sound of mind are responsible for their actions and have the right to want to continue to live or to die.

I would like you to know that you are my last chance. You should also know that I was a fellow citizen without a history, without any judicial record, a sportsman and a volunteer fireman.

I do not deserve a scenario as terrible as this and I hope that you will read this letter, which is specially addressed to you...

Please accept, Mr President, my warmest compliments.

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