A French woman, Maryannick Pavageau, has just received the Legion of Honor. At age 30 she suffered a stroke, was in a coma for three months, and for the past thirty years she has been a "locked-in quadriplegic" , a syndrome sympathetically described in the book and the film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Ms. Pavageau has been campaigning against euthanasia and asking that the disabled be offered encouragement and love.
On the occasion of her award, she said:
All life is worth living. It can be beautiful, regardless of the state we are in. And change is always possible. That is the message of hope that I wish to convey. I am firmly against euthanasia because it is not physical suffering that guides the desire to die but a moment of discouragement, feeling like a burden... All those who ask to die are mostly looking for love.... "
In response to the media's promotion of euthanasia, two years ago, she offered the following:
Public statements produce unexpected collateral damage amongst people suffering from serious illness such as Locked-In Syndrome. We are constant consumers of TV and radio programs. In response to our deep discouragement - and who is free from that? - we are only offered this final right, hypocritically baptised as a sign of love. A recent study on the quality of life of locked-in sydndrome patients found, to the astonishment of the medical profession, that when asked 'if you had a heart attack, would you want to be resuscitated?', the great majority of us answered: Yes.