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An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life (Part One)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/06/15


Pascal Landa is the Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics). He discusses: early life, or his superhero origin story.

Keywords: AAVIVRE, France, religion, right to die, Pascal Landa.

An Interview with Pascal Landa on Early Life: Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics) (Part One)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let us start from the top like a superhero origin story. What is early life?

Pascal Landa: Let us start from the genesis of the right to die movement in France, a movement which was created by my father following an article he wrote called “A Right” (Le Monde November 1979) in which he explained that being able to at one point in one’s life say, “Stop,” to a situation of life that is no longer wanted by the individual should be available to all and be accompanied; and that there is no reason we should treat people less well than we treat animals that we euthanize.

The reason he wrote that article was that as he was a philosopher, a Doctor of Philosophy and History of Philosophy, from Berkeley, he had in the Second World War (1943-4), participated in a Maquis at 16. When his fellow mates would be hit in the stomach by German bullets, they would be condemned to a slow death and know that they would die after three, four, five, ten days of tremendous suffering. To avoid the suffering, they asked their fellow members and the head of the group to just put a bullet through their heads, which was regularly done. That impressed him a lot.

In 1959, his mother was dying of generalized cancer in a hospital in Paris. She was screaming in pain most nights. He asked her over time if she wanted to stop this, and she said, of course, yes, so he helped her pass away. You must remember in those days, the common belief was that suffering was a way of gaining redemption in heaven. It is still believed by some people, which is fine, but certainly not our way of seeing things.

In 1977, my grandfather, who had been travelling around the world all his life, came and lived next to us. He arrived in October, ‘77 and quickly we learned he had terminal cancer. We accompanied him until March, to his death. He was a person who refused to look at the fact that he was dying. He refused to look at the fact that he was terminally ill.

One of the experiments that had been done in the Northern countries in Europe, was to help people reconcile themselves with the end of life using LSD, lysergic acid a drug that reduces inhibitions . In fact, it worked extremely well with my grandfather. He did maybe a dozen trips from October to March. It was amazing for me, I was 22 at the time, to see him open up, become a person that would discuss with us, a person that would give us a chance to exchange with him and learn about his emotions, learn about what he felt about life. I had known him as a closed-up human being. Through the LSD experience, he opened and reconciled himself with life. He was a known stock exchange expert. He, at the end of his life, would just make fun of those experts while looking at them on TV.

That shows that one of the issues of the end of life is being able to look at your end of life as another step and another phase of your life. My father helped him die at that time. We all accompanied him. One day out of three, either I or my mother or my father would be alongside him and sleep at night with him and massage him and give him the right kind of food and all the things that made him comfortable. Then one day, he decided that it was just too much pain and my father helped him die.

All of these experiences led my father to write that article in 1979. After his article was published, hundreds of people wrote to him saying, “We should do something about this. You are right. Your article says clearly what we believe. We should not be treating people worse than animals. We should have the individual right to decide about our own end of life, and be accompanied in this.”

He proposed to senator Caillavet in France, who in 1978 had proposed legislation in the Senate asking for the right to die with dignity, to head the movement. The senator said to Michel, my father, “You need to be the president because as a senator, I cannot be both the president of an association and a senator.” My father created this association in June of 1980.

In November of 1980 he fell ill and had to get a triple heart bypass due to a serious heart affection. Right before his operation in December, we discovered he had lung cancer, a tumor as big as an orange. They stopped the operation and he fought against this cancer for the next six months of his life. I myself came back from where I used to work in the US and accompanied him to his death.

He did the treatment, the chemotherapy and all the drug-taking that modern medicine suggests. But at one point, he said, “This is enough. I am not going to do the radiotherapy because things are not improving anyhow. It is just spreading, and now it has metastasized.” He said to his doctors, “Give me the drugs that will keep me alive and clear of mind without intolerable pain as long as possible.”

At that time you must remember, it was 1980, beginning ‘81. Doctors still refused, at least in France, to give you medicine able to keep you intellectually aware without pain because they said, “You are going to become an addict.” There are still some doctors today that say that. “Even though you are six months away from dying, you are still going to get addicted.” This is crazy, insane.

Hopefully, now, most of the doctors understand that pain is not a redeeming value and that people who are near death do not need to be worried about taking too much drug. The objective is to keep them as intellectually aware and able as we can, but not put them into a mindless state.

This is one of the issues with the movement, palliative care. Of course we support palliative care, but palliative care is a phase of treatment, it is not for many the end treatment. Palliative care extremists say, “If the person is not feeling well, we just give him more and more drugs, and then he dies drugged.” We do not want to die drugged. We want to die aware and conscious of what we are doing. There is no meaning in life to lie in drugged unconsciousness for weeks or months.

One day my father said, maybe in June, “The day I can no longer get up and take my shower myself, and the day I have less than one hour of intellectual capacity, is the day I will decide to go away because there’s no reason for me to continue living.’ On the 15th of August, he said, “This is the day.” Remember that he was a political figure or at least a public figure, and it was considered killing people to help somebody die.

He had made everything clear. He was going to take the right drugs and go by himself, but he wanted to have a last dinner with us. My brother and sister are 15 years younger than me, so they were 14 and 15 at the time. We had a last dinner with him and then friends took them away to protect them should the police make an enquiry.

Listening to Bach’s suites for unaccompanied cello, he an insulin overdose meant to bring him into an irreversible coma followed by death. My mother and I were shocked that at one o’clock in the morning, 6 hours after he had taken insulin, we could see he was, agitated. It was that he wanted to go to the bathroom, so that he would not pee under himself.

This is first to remind you that life is tenacious to our bodies. Killing oneself is not an easy thing. We can know how to do it, but life does not give up easily. The second is that the individual is conscious until the end and primarily wants self-respect. That is one of the big issues of ending one’s life.

We brought him to the bathroom and put him back in bed and he fell back into his deep coma. The death process continued and continued. In 1981, the law was so restrictive, and he was such a public figure that at six o’clock in the morning, we decided, my mother and I, that we had to help him. Thank goodness we had a backup solution with morphine. I gave him an intravenous shot of morphine. In 10 seconds, not even, 3 seconds, it was over.

I do not wish for any son to have to do this for his father. It is a terrible thing to kill your own father. I did not kill him. I just gave him what he wanted, ultimately, but it still is a difficult thing for a son to do with a father. It is much better if it is a third party who is not emotionally affected and emotionally implicated. I gave him death with the same love as he gave me life.

As he died, he left the leadership of the right to die movement in France, called the ADMD, bereft. He had asked me to do two things before he died. First thing was to guarantee ADMD would survive him because I had, of course, helped him build the movement. At that time, we had about 600 people in the movement. He wanted me to guarantee him that the movement would become self-sustaining.

The other thing he wanted was for me to publish a little booklet that he had started writing, called Self Deliverance, in which he had written the precepts, well, a few notes on what he wanted to say to people about taking one’s life and deciding to die.

Mostly he had used the work of a Dr Admiral physician in Holland. This man had put together lists of all the drugs witch existed at that time, a lot of barbiturates, that would enable you, in a cocktail, to end your life in a reasonably safe manner. Based on his notes I wrote the booklet. I had a team of pharmacologists review the drugs and make sure that the French drug names and compositions corresponded to the nomenclature of drugs from Holland.

I had the booklet published by the ADMD with a lot of arm-twisting of the Board of Directors of the association because they were all scared of their shadows, but I was 30 at the time, so I was gung-ho and clear about getting things done. I had already created 2 firms at that time so I had some experience in management.

In publishing this booklet, we got hundreds and hundreds of requests for the booklet “Autodélivrance”. To be able to buy the booklet, you had to be a member of the association for at least three months which meant many new members. We sold if for ₣F50 at the time, which in today’s money is $50. This helped finance the association for the long term and made sure that we could hire good lawyers if we were to run into a court case.

I ran the association as its president for two and a half years. At that point, I was 30. I was just starting my career. The old folks on the board of the ADMD wanted to take the lead and continue the movement. I remained as a member of the board as the vice president, for I think ten years or so, and was a member of the board for 30 years.

In my term as President we grew to 17,000. Today that association is 60,000. For over 30 years, we built a reputation for that association that made the Right to Die Movement be recognized and considered as a responsible, reasonable movement. UN-happily, 10 years ago, a politician took over the leadership and he has turned the whole association into his own promotional tool and changed the statutes to enable him to lead without any opposition possible.

That is a frequent issue in the right to die movements. Because of ego issues and greed people fight and cheat financially. We have a lot of members who are old and who do not particularly care or are concerned about how the association works, they just want to contribute to get the right to die legislation in place. Unethical persons then take over and exploit this.

The active persons left the original movement in France because of this. It is of no use spending energy in futile wars. We denounced to the authorities sustained by facts to say, “This guy is doing illegal stuff,” but the authorities have not reacted despite newspaper articles to this effect. We would rather focus on helping the movement move ahead than focus on going against this guy.

To make a long story short, five years ago, I created with a few ex-ADMD members a new association called AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics). That went on for 3, 4 years, but since my retirement, I have been sailing. I had to pass the hand on to other people, who decided to create a new association called Citizens for Choice at the End of their Lives “LE CHOIX” (The Choice).

I joined this association because they have the same spirit as those who originally created the movement. They are working for the right thing: The right for an individual to be able to choose, not to impose, but to choose. We are now on 10,000 people in that movement and it is growing fast, it is only a year old. I think it will be the new right to die movement in France, as time goes on.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics).

[2] Individual Publication Date: June 15, 2019:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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