A Frenchman suffering from an incurable illness is due to livestream his death on social media on Saturday after President Emmanuel Macron denied his request to “die in peace”.
Alain Cocq, 57, who has a rare condition where the walls of the arteries stick together, insisted that he had less than a week to live and would broadcast his death on Facebook from Saturday morning.
He said he was taking the unusual step to show France the “agony” his current state had put him in and that his decision to stop eating and drinking on Friday night would result in death within four to five days.
Mr Cocq said he hoped his radical move would raise awareness over the predicament of many terminally ill patients in France who have no hope of respite but are unable to die as they wish.
He had written to Mr Macron asking for the right to euthanasia via a lethal substance and discussed it with Elysée aides. However, the French president responded by explaining this was not currently possible under French law.
French legislation stipulates that deep sedation can only be administered if a patient has an incurable condition and is due to die in the short term. Mr Cocq does not fit these criteria as his life is not at imminent risk.
"Because I am not above the law, I am not able to comply with your request," Mr Macron said in a letter which the patient published on his Facebook page.
"I cannot ask anyone to go beyond our current legal framework... Your wish is to request active assistance in dying which is not currently permitted in our country," said Mr Macron.
"With emotion, I respect your action," he added.
The Elysée said Mr Macron wanted to make it clear he supported Mr Cocq's commitment to the rights of the disabled.
The letter ended with a handwritten postscript, saying: "With all my personal support and profound respect."
Mr Cocq said he hoped his ordeal would "go down in the long term" as a step towards changing the law. He has been disabled for the past 34 years but recently his condition has seriously deteriorated and he is in chronic pain.
“We could have taken him to Switzerland for an assisted suicide (where it is legal),” said Jean-Luc Romero, head of the right to die in dignity association, ADMD. “But he didn’t want to do that.”
France has grappled with a string of right-to-die cases in recent years amid emotive debate over how far the law should go in allowing people to end their life.
The highest-profile was that of Vincent Lambert who was left in a vegetative state after a traffic accident in 2008. A bitter legal battle ensued split the country and his family, with his parents against and his wife and nephew for turning off life support. He was finally allowed to died in July last year.
In January, a court acquitted the French doctor who switched off the life support systems - the expected verdict after prosecutors said he "perfectly respected his legal obligations."