French Court Saves Patient from Being Starved to Death

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 21, 2019   

Court of appeals orders doctors not to euthanize comatose patient Vincent Lambert

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REIMS, France (ChurchMilitant.com) - A French patient has been saved from euthanasia thanks to a court's last-minute intervention.

French citizen Vincent Lambert was in a motorcycle accident in 2008. The wreck left the 42-year-old man quadriplegic and in a coma. Doctors have referred to his condition as a vegetative state. 

Lambert's wife has been pushing for the removal of his nutrition and hydration, claiming he would never want to live in a so-called vegetative state. His parents, on the other hand, are pushing to keep him alive.

Monday morning, doctors at a hospital in Reims removed Lambert's feeding tube and put him in deep sedation to begin his "end-of-life" process. Removing patients' life support and allowing them to die is referred to as passive euthanasia.

Dr. Vincent Sanchez of the University Hospital of Reims initiated the end-of-life procedure.

But Monday evening, an appeals court in Paris ordered the hospital to keep Lambert alive, halting the attempt at euthanasia. In an emergency session, the court ruled that France must respect the request of the U.N. Committee for the Rights of Disabled Persons, which had advised keeping Lambert alive so the committee could launch an investigation into the controversy.

They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink. For once I am proud of the courts.

Lambert's mother, Viviane, commented, "They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink. For once I am proud of the courts."

Viviane called the ruling a "very big victory."


Catholics around the world expressed support for Lambert on Monday, as medical staff readied to pull his feeding tube.

Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea posted on Twitter a photo of Lambert along with a quotation from the Gospel of St. Matthew, saying: 

Then he will say to those on the left, "Go away from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. Because I was hungry and you did not give me food, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink."

Cardinal Raymond Burke told LifeSiteNews during an interview Monday

I am deeply concerned for Vincent Lambert and for the many other victims of euthanasia, for it is clear that, if the withholding of nutrition and hydration is justified in the case of Vincent Lambert, no one who finds himself or herself in a gravely weakened condition will enjoy the fundamental respect for his or her life.

He also stated, "The first precept of the natural law is the protection and promotion of all human life, especially of human life which is heavily burdened by special needs or grave illness or advanced years."

Cardinal Burke returned to natural law later in the interview, saying, "In the case of Vincent Lambert, our duty to uphold the natural law means insisting that he be provided the normal care for a person in his condition."

In the case of Vincent Lambert, our duty to uphold the natural law means insisting that he be provided the normal care for a person in his condition.

When asked about the terminology "vegetative state," Cdl. Burke replied, "The term, 'a vegetative state,' must be used with great care, for it can lead to viewing the one suffering the condition as less than human."

Fearing their son would soon lose life support, Viviane and her husband gave Vincent what they thought was a final goodbye on Sunday. A video shared online shows Viviane talking to Vincent about the situation on Sunday. Some claim Vincent can be seen crying in response to what his mother tells him.

 

Lambert's case has often been compared to that of Terri Schiavo, an American woman who was in a so-called vegetative state for years as her ex-husband and family battled in the courts over whether to pull the plug or keep her alive. She died in 2005, 13 days after life support was removed.

Schiavo's death was two days prior to the death of Pope St. John Paul II, who as pope promoted respect for the lives of comatose patients.

Cardinal Burke cited John Paul II repeatedly during his recent interview with LifeSiteNews. He referenced a 2004 address to doctors, in which John Paul said: "I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory."

In 2015, French hospital officials delayed making a final decision on whether or not to let Lambert die due to security concerns surrounding the controversy.

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