7/8/19: In May, Life News distributed the phone number for French president Emmanuel Macron’s office, should citizens wish to appeal his death sentence. That number is +33142928100. Callers were instructed to say “Je téléphone pour sauver la vie de Vincent Lambert.” Readers may wish to appeal to President Macron again at this time. From the U.S., call 011 3 314-292-8100.
Vincent’s mother spoke recently at the Human Rights Council denouncing the decision to remove her son’s nutrition.
7/2/19: France’s highest appeals court has ordered Vincent Lambert’s food to be removed following a six-year-long legal battle for his life.
The 42-year-old nurse, now in a hospital in Reims, suffered an accident in 2008 which left him quadriplegic and with extensive brain damage. He is described by some as “semi-conscious,” and by others as being “in a vegetative state.” Vincent can sleep and wake up, respond to some voices, can swallow, and breathe on his own. He is not dependent on machines to live, but he is dependent on nutrition and hydration being delivered in a special manner, like many people.
The Court of Cassation’s final ruling means that Lambert, who is not otherwise ill or at the end of his life, would be removed from food and water and left to die slowly, which can take 14 days or more. The decision cannot be appealed in France, but his parents are fighting the order and have threatened to press charges for murder if his food is removed. However, Vincent’s wife and six of his eight siblings believe he should be forced to die.
In 2015, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Vincent’s parents, but it wasn’t until May that doctors began removing feeding tubes due to “security concerns,” according to the BBC. The Paris Court of Appeals immediately ordered doctors to cease until the Court of Cassation handed down their final ruling, which they did on June 28th.
In May, Viviane, Lambert’s mother, went before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to implore their help, arguing that removing food and water from him is a medically unnecessary action that essentially starves him to death on account of his disabilities. “I beg you, help us,” Viviane Lambert told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva according to SCMP. “Without your intervention, my son, Vincent Lambert, will be euthanized because of his mental handicap.”
The UN Committee has twice before asked France to refrain from removing nutrition and hydration from Lambert until they could conduct their own investigation, but France rejected the measure as non-binding.
On Monday, Viviane renewed her plea for her son’s life. “He sleeps at night, wakes up during the day, and looks at me when I talk,” she said, according to Reuters. “He only needs to be fed through a special device and his doctor wants to deprive him of this so that he can die, while legal experts have have shown that this is not necessary.” She also emphasized that he has reacted to their voices, stating, “In May, when learning about his planned death, he cried.”
“We are deeply upset. This is why we have turned to the U.N. Committee of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities because the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities prohibits depriving a person of food and drink. This would be a discrimination,” she added.
Pope Francis tweeted in general about those with disabilities in May, writing (translated), “Pray for those who live in a state of severe disability. Always protect life, God’s gift, from the beginning to the natural end. Do not give in to the culture of waste.”
Prions pour ceux qui vivent dans un état de grave handicap. Protégeons toujours la vie, don de Dieu, du début à la fin naturelle. Ne cédons pas à la culture du déchet.
— Pape François (@Pontifex_fr) May 20, 2019
Reacting to the court’s decision, Bobby Schindler, president of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network, told Live Action News:
Vincent Lambert is a disabled man who relies on food and water, just like the rest of us. He experienced a brain injury, but is not terminal and not near the end of his natural life. It’s a crime against common sense that his parents are being denied the right to care for him as they see fit.
Vincent is being killed by the French state, and this killing is intentionally being caused by a denial of food and water. If we treated any other disabled person this way, it would be rightly seen as an outrageous injustice. We have to awaken the consciences of our brothers and sisters to recognize the humanity and dignity of Vincent Lambert and those like him—lives are literally at stake.
The case is re-igniting debate in France over euthanasia laws. Currently, euthanasia is illegal in France, but doctors are allowed to remove live-saving measures for those with “no hope of recovery.” A 2016 law also allows doctors to put terminally ill patients into a conscious deep sedation until death.
Editor’s Note, 7/3: Updated to add Pope Francis tweet and remarks from Bobby Schindler.
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