Terminally ill Frenchman Alain Cocq abandons starvation plan

Alain Cocq at his home in Dijon, France, in August 2020.
Alain Cocq at his home in Dijon, France, in August 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

LYON (AFP) - A Frenchman stricken by a terminal illness on Wednesday (Sept 9) said he had decided to eat again, despite earlier vowing to starve himself to death in a closely watched right-to-die case.

"I did not have the capacity for the fight any more," Alain Cocq told AFP from his Dijon hospital.

He had planned to stream his death on Facebook but the tech giant said at the weekend it would block it.

Cocq said he had been fed with his permission and could go home in the next 10 days, which would allow enough time to recover and a have a medical team installed at home.

The 57-year-old had refused food or drink since Saturday in a challenge to France's longstanding denial of the right to die except in very limited circumstances.

His action was announced after President Emmanuel Macron responded to a personal letter from Cocq asking for euthanasia.

"I am not able to comply with your request," Macron wrote, according to a copy of the letter posted to Cocq's Facebook page.

Macron said in his letter that he respected Cocq's actions and added a handwritten postscript: "With all my personal support and profound respect."

Under French law, only so-called passive euthanasia is permitted for severely ill or injured patients who are being kept alive artificially, with no chance of recovery.

 
 

While euthanasia has become more accepted in some European countries, French legislators have shown no sign they are ready to revise the stance.

Previous French cases have proved emotive and divisive.

Most polarising was 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 had "perfectly respected his legal obligations".