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Last Updated: Friday, 21 March 2008, 14:47 GMT
Tumour woman's death not natural
Chantal Sebire
Ms Sebire said she would find the drugs she needed to help her die
A French woman with an incurable tumour who lost a legal challenge seeking euthanasia did not die of natural causes, her postmortem has found.

Former schoolteacher Chantal Sebire, a mother of three, was found dead on Wednesday after a court rejected her request to let doctors help her die.

Ms Sebire's tumour had left her blind, disfigured and suffering intense pain.

The case has sparked intense debate, with politicians calling for France's euthanasia law to be changed.

Legislation adopted in 2005 allows families to request that life-support equipment for terminally ill patients be switched off, but does not allow a doctor to take action to end a patient's life.

TV appeal

Dijon prosecutor Jean-Pierre Alacchi, who is dealing with the death, said there was no specific cause to explain her death.

Tests were under way to find out whether anyone helped her die, he said.

Ms Sebire, 52, had appealed on French television last month for the right to die, saying she could no longer see properly, taste or smell. She described how children ran away from her in the street.

But a magistrate in Dijon said the case could only be rejected under French law.

This prompted Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot to call on Thursday for a review of the law.

"[Ms Sebire] has raised extremely serious questions of life, suffering and death," she said, quoted by Le Monde newspaper.

Meanwhile former Socialist Prime Minister Laurent Fabius has proposed a bill allowing patients in very exceptional cases to benefit from "active help to die", the newspaper said.

Ms Sebire suffered from an extremely rare form of cancer in the nasal cavity known as an esthesioneuroblastoma.

Only 200 cases of the disease have been recorded worldwide in the past two decades.

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