Outcry in France after doctors halt life support for quadriplegic man in vegetative state against his parents’ wishes
- Quadriplegic French man Vincent Lambert was injured in 2008 car accident
- Has since been kept alive in a vegetative state at Sebastopol hospital in Reims
- Battle within his family and with doctors over right to live has ended with staff withdrawing his life support
- His parents, who are devout Catholics and against ending his life, claim medical staff did not let them say goodbye to their son
Vincent Lambert, 42, has had his life support withdrawn after being kept in a vegetative state for a decade
Doctors for a quadriplegic man who has been in a vegetative state for the last decade have started switching off his life support today, the lawyer for his parents has said.
The case of Vincent Lambert has split his own family and even become a subject of political tension in France ahead of European elections.
His Catholic parents, who are devoutly opposed to ending his life, have repeatedly challenged court decisions to switch off the systems.
But doctors from the Sebastopol hospital in Reims said they would begin turning off life support systems on Monday following a final judicial ruling.
Jean Paillot, the lawyer for Vincent Lambert’s parents, said: ‘It is shameful, they (the parents) could not even embrace their son.’
Other family sources also confirmed the systems were being switched off. The parents’ legal team had on Sunday vowed to launch multiple legal challenges in a last-ditch bid to stop the systems being switched off.
Vincent Sanchez, the doctor treating Lambert who has been the target of the parents’ anger, said in a message to the family that the ‘halting of treatments’ and ‘profound and continued sedation’ had been initiated.
The parents of Vincent Lambert, Pierre and Viviane Lambert, arrive with supporters at the Sebastopol hospital in Reims, eastern France where he has been kept alive on life support
In the message seen by AFP, he urged everyone to ‘rally around him (Vincent Lambert) so these moments are as peaceful, intimate and personal and possible.’
Lambert’s wife Rachel, five of his siblings and his nephew Francois, have all backed the decision to begin switching off the systems.
In 2014, doctors backed by Lambert’s wife Rachel, five of his siblings and his nephew Francois, decided to stop his nutrition and hydration in line with France’s passive euthanasia law.
A member of Mr Lambert’s support committee holds up a placard that reads ‘Don’t let Vincent starve to death’ outside the hospital yesterday
Another sign held by a support of Mr Lambert reads: ‘Dear eternal, don’t forgive them because they know what they are doing’
But his parents Pierre and Viviane Lambert, devout Catholics, and his half-brother and sister obtained a court order to block the move on grounds his condition might improve with better treatment.
Earlier this year, a French court sided with Sanchez’s decision to stop the care keeping Lambert, now aged 42, alive.
The ruling was upheld last month by France’s State Council which decides on the validity of laws and legal decisions.
Vincent Lambert’s parents Pierre and Viviane, who are devout Catholics, obtained a court order to block a move by other family members to withdraw life support in 2014 on grounds his condition might improve with better treatment
France’s Conference of Bishops added its voice to the controversy Saturday, calling on authorities to wait on an opinion being worked on by the UN committee on disabled rights.
‘Why this rush to lead him to death?’ the clerics asked in a statement.
The UN committee on disabled rights earlier this month asked France to suspend the decision to withdraw the life support, while it conducts its own investigation, which could take years.
France’s Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said France would answer the committee but was not under any legal requirement to abide by its request.
The issue has also become a political controversy in the run-up to next weekend’s European elections. Les Republicains MEP candidate Francois-Xavier Bellamy said there were 1,500 people in a similar position to Mr Lambert’s
The issue has also become a political controversy in the run-up to next weekend’s European elections.
Francois-Xavier Bellamy, a candidate in the European Parliament elections for the opposition Les Republicains, said he ‘could not understand the hurry’ to switch off the support and called on President Emmanuel Macron to intervene.
‘If we enter down a dangerous path which consists of saying a life that is dependent, one that is fragile, sick, is not one worth being lived, then we will build an inhumane world,’ he told French television.
He said that there were 1,500 patients in a similar position to Vincent Lambert in France. The parents had also asked Macron to intervene to stop what they called a ‘crime of the state’.
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