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Doctor in mercy death disclosure

Paris, Oct. 1 (Reuters): A French doctor said today he turned off the machine keeping alive a paralysed accident victim and acknowledged professional mercy killings “probably” happen every day.

The admission by Frederic Chaussoy will fuel a raging debate on euthanasia, highlighted by the case of quadriplegic Vincent Humbert, 22, who fell into a deep coma last week after his mother attempted to end his life. Humbert’s ordeal has gripped France since he published a book last week about his wish to die, dictated using a flicker of movement in his thumb to select letters.

Chaussoy, summoned for police questioning ahead of Humbert’s funeral, said he could face a formal investigation. “I take the responsibility for this act. It was a sad but carefully thought-out decision taken with serenity and with respect for the patient,” Chaussoy told Europe 1 radio. “We know very well how to lie. We do it regularly and we could just have just continued this tradition of hypocrisy. But in this case it was better to tell the truth,” he said.

Chaussoy turned off the breathing machine a day-and-a-half after an attempt by Humbert’s mother to end his life failed, leaving her son in a deep coma and on life support.

Asked if doctors across France quietly ceased life support for the terminally ill, Chaussoy replied:“Probably, yes”. Humbert made headlines a year ago when he wrote to President Jacques Chirac begging that his mother be allowed to end his life as he was blind, mute, paralysed and in constant pain.

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