Court orders life support to resume in right-to-die case

Doctors have been ordered to resume life support for a quadriplegic Frenchman whose case is central to the right-to-die debate in France.

The doctors had stopped the nutrition and hydration Vincent Lambert receives, following an earlier judicial ruling in accordance with the wishes of his wife and other relatives.

The new order to resume life came just a few hours after doctors had started switching off Lambert’s life support.

The court said authorities had “to take all measures” to keep Lambert (42) alive while a review by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is completed.

Lambert’s mother said the ruling is “a very big victory” for her struggle to keep her son on life support.

Lambert has been a quadraplegic in a vegetative state since a motorcycle accident 11 years ago.

The ruling marks a dramatic reversal in the case which has divided France where, although euthanasia is illegal, doctors are allowed to put terminally ill patients into deep sedation.

It has also divided Lambert’s family who are in disagreement over how he should be cared for.

His wife, six of his eight siblings and his nephew have repeatedly called for his feeding tubes to be withdrawn.

His Catholic parents and two other siblings remain adamant life support should continue.

In an open letter published last weekend in which Lambert’s parents asked Macron for help, they said:

“Mr President, Vincent Lambert will die without hydration in the week of 20 May if you do nothing and you are the last and only one able to intervene.”

Macron declined to intervene, saying “the decision to stop treatment was taken after continual dialogue between his doctors and his wife, who is his legal representative.”

Prior to the latest court ruling, Pope Francis spoke out in favour of keeping Lambert alive.

“Let us always safeguard life, God’s gift, from its beginning until its natural end. Let us not give in to a throwaway culture,” he said.


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