Brickbat: Don't Die Here


In France, only doctors can pronounce someone dead, not coroners or pathologists or nurses as in many other countries. Only doctors. With a growing shortage of physicians, especially in rural areas, that means the families of those who die at home may have to wait hours or even days for their loved ones to be pronounced dead. And by law, the body can't be removed from the home until a physician pronounces death, so the families have to keep the bodies until a doctor arrives. The problem has grown so severe, The New York Times reports, that one town has banned people from dying at home.

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  1. “banned people from dying at home”

    I’m interested in that phrasing…what penalties are imposed on the corpse?

    1. Eternal confinement in a pine box, is a cement vault, buried in the ground?

    2. I imagine it’s fines and jail sentences for their surviving relatives. In cases where the dead person had no family, whoever happens to be living next door would face penalties.

    3. ….what penalties are imposed on the corpse?
      The death penalty!

    4. Its France, so . . . either massive fines levied at the deceased’s estate, with the excess automatically levied against the inheritors – who are strictly defined in law (live by the sword . . . ) – or a hefty bribe paid to someone in the local prefecture to look the other way.

  2. Immortality by fiat: just ban dying!

  3. How can it be illegal to “move a body”? It’s not a DEAD body, right? It’s not dead until a doctor declares it dead. So… “We moved Uncle Jacque outside for one last look at the sun before he died.”


    1. Exactly my thought – how can you be charged with illegally moving a body if the body hasn’t been legally declared a body? If you go to wake Grandmere up and she won’t wake up, she’s stiff and cold and she’s not breathing and she’s got no pulse, I’d be taking her to the emergency room to find out what’s wrong with her.

      1. But I suppose that depends on whether or not you liked Grandmere – if you hear some noises coming from Grandmere’s room and you check and she’s thrashing about on the floor, moaning and groaning and clutching her chest, you can just close the door and walk away and wait for the noises to stop. Claim you thought that the noises were just gasses escaping the corpse and you didn’t want to be cited for moving a dead body, so, too bad, so sad for Grandmere.

        1. I’m getting better . . .

    2. What I concluded was that until the body was declared dead, it was kidnapping — that it’s not, as characterized here, a law against moving corpses, for that would be absurd, but against moving unconscious persons except for medical reasons. This is probably a very sensible law except for:

      the narrowness of qualifications for persons to legally determine someone to be dead, and

      a (Typically French?) lack of common sense forebearance in application of the law.

  4. French zombies probably wouldn’t pose much of a problem for the living.

    1. How do you tell a French zombie from a French bureaucrat?

      1. By the smell. Oh, wait, no you can’t. The zombies move faster?

  5. Les Morts Immobiles

  6. Got [or want to create] a problem? Just pass a law, that’ll take care of it.

    Not unlike the gun control laws now before the Virginia legislature. Dead on delivery.

    1. At least that’s not the only thing dead on delivery in VA.

  7. Premise for a “Weekend at Bernie’s” revival?

  8. Not a real issue, just do the same thing that the majority of paramedics do in the US at the behest of police. Keep up the CPR facade, put the corpse in the whambulance1 and continue “rescue” procedures, when they get to a hospital the “doctor” says they “died en route”. Problem solved.

    1: any available vehicle driven with flashers on.

    1. Is there some trick to posting html on It doesn’t seem to recognize normal html tags. Do I need funny tags or something?

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