French Couple Leave Suicide Note Slamming French Law
Bernard and Georgette Cazes wishes for a more 'serene' exit than the French lawbook offered them (Reuters)

An elderly French couple have sparked a debate on assisted suicide after their bodies were found in a Paris hotel room with a note criticising a French law that prevented them ending their lives "serenely".

Bernard and Georgette Cazes, both 86, were found hand in hand on their bed with plastic bags over their faces by a member of staff at the Hotel Lutetia. Two notes were found by their bedside, one intended for their families and one directed at the public prosecutor criticisng legislation that outlaws assisted suicide.

"By what right can a person be forced into a cruel [situation] when they wish to end their life peacefully?" asked Georgette in the letter.

"Isn't my freedom only limited by the freedom of others?" the extract, quoted in Le Parisien, continued. "By what right can they prevent a person [from ending their life peacefully] when they've paid their taxes, have no debts to the state, have worked all their lives, and then done voluntary service?

"The law forbids access to any lethal pills that would enable a soft death. Should my freedom be only limited by that of others?

"Who has the right to hinder a person with nobody in their charge? Who has the right to force them to commit cruel practices when they want to leave this life serenely?"

Their eldest son told Le Parisien that the couple had made the decision to die together "several decades ago".

"They feared being separated and being dependent a lot more than they feared death," the son, who has not been named, said.

The incident has reignited the euthanasia debate in France where it is illegal for doctors to deliberately withhold treatment that would prolong life (passive euthanasia) or administer drugs that would end a patient's life (active euthanasia).

President François Hollande made it one of his election pledges in 2012 to change the law that bans passive euthanasia.

The couple, who had been together since they were teenagers 60 years ago, checked into Lutetia on Thursday and made sure that their bodies would be discovered the day after they killed themselves by placing an advance room-service order for breakfast for the following day.

The couple had chosen the hotel - once the haunt of Pablo Picasso and Samuel Beckett - as it was where Georgette was reunited with her father on his return from five years in a German prison camp during World War II.

A recent poll revealed that 92% of the French public were in favour of assisted suicide for patients with "unbearable or incurable" illnesses.