Vincent Lambert: life support resumed – but final decision is still pending

Hours after they began the process of killing him through the withdrawal of artificial nutrition (which would have resulted in starving him to death), a French law court has ordered doctors to restore the life support of a man in a vegetative state whose controversial case has divided his family and the public.

Vincent Lambert, 42, sustained severe brain damage in a car accident in 2008 and has been on life support at Sebastopol Hospital in Reims, northeast France. He is breathing autonomously, but is unable to eat and drink. The case, which divides his family, has caught worldwide attention. His wife and siblings want him to die, claiming he will never recover from his vegetative state. They argue on the basis of oral statements he allegedly made before his accident (but without any written evidence) that he would have preferred to die rather than living in a comatose state. His parents, who claim that he is not suffering from any life-threatening illness but in a stable condition, in which he could continue living for many years and from which he (theoretically) even could recover, refuse to accept that life-sustaining basic care be withdrawn.

The legal battle has been going on for years. At some point it also reached the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which decided that the killing of Vincent Lambert would not violate his right to life under Article 2 of the European Human Rights Convention; subsequently, the wretched court even used his case as a precedent to allow the killing of a sick boy in the UK (cases of Charlie Gard) of whom it had not even been claimed that they had ever made a request to be euthanised, and whose parents adamantly opposed euthanasia, on the sole grounds that the treating doctors found that being killed was “in the child’s best interest”. The Court, is thus going as far as to allow forced euthanasia – against the will of both the patient and his close family, based solely on a bureaucratic decision.

While the ECtHR, Europe’s most prestigious human rights institution, appears irredeemably corrupted, there is still one international human rights body left that speaks reason. The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has appealed to France to stop the killing of Vincent Lambert until it has had more time to review the case. Lambert’s life is thus still not safe, but at least the attempt to kill him has been suspended for the time being.

This is already the second time that Vincent Lambert had been cut off from nutrition. The first time, he had remained without nutrition for 43 days, but survived.

Link: comment on the case by Grégor Puppinck, Director of the European Center for Law and Justice