French Doctors Condemn a Patient to Death Against Parents’ Wishes

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by Alexander Slavsky  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 12, 2018   

The decision comes as France is considering legalizing euthanasia

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REIMS, France (ChurchMilitant.com) - French Doctors are removing nourishment and hydration for an unconscious man with paralysis despite the fact other hospitals are willing to care for him. 

Vincent Lambert, who was injured in a 2008 car crash which left him severely brain damaged in a coma as a quadriplegic, is receiving basic hydration and nutrition at the Sebastopol Hospital in Reims, France. His doctors and specialists have shown that he is breathing on his own, responding to stimuli and his condition is stable.   

But Lambert's physician, Dr. Vincent Sanchez, ruled Monday after a collegiate procedure lasting five months that continually feeding and hydrating the patient was considered "unreasonable obstinacy." He instructed the hospital to stop treating Lambert and to euthanize him within 10 days unless there is another appeal to administrative justice. 

 

"We dispute the fact that Vincent is in a situation of 'unreasonable obstinacy.' We are faced with a decision of euthanasia, of life arrest and the patient's mother, father, brother and sister received this decision as a punch in the stomach. They witnessed a death sentence today," said Jean Paillot, one of Lambert's parents' lawyers. 
 
This follows three previous attempts to euthanize Lambert which were thwarted by his devout Catholic parents, two sisters, one half-brother and his legal defense — all opposed to ending his life and wanting to transfer him to a specialized institution.
 
Lambert's wife, Rachel, six other siblings and a nephew support ending his life via dehydration and starvation. 
 
"Vincent has a body that suffers the doctor says, which means that we are not sure that Vincent does not feel the pain. It is possible, it is conceivable that Vincent has lived an ordeal for five years," noted François Lambert, the patient's nephew. "Well, I believe it, if I may say so. I believe we will finally respect Vincent's wishes." 
 
We are faced with a decision of euthanasia, of life arrest, and the patient's mother, father, brother and sister received this decision as a punch in the stomach. 
The European Court of Human Rights initially sentenced Lambert to death in 2015, arguing that ceasing artificial nutrition and hydration did not violate Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This contradicted previous rulings from the administrative court of Châlons-en-Champagne in 2013 and 2014 for the "restoration of food" and that the "continuation of treatment was neither unnecessary nor disproportionate." 
 
Paillot criticized Monday's ruling as a "masquerade" like procedure, saying, "It is on the medical field that we will place ourselves ... This is not a remedy in principle. Medical evidence was put forward that was deliberately ignored by the doctor."  
 
Pro-life groups, including the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, interviewed Dr. Xavier Ducrocq, a professor of neurology at the University of Lorraine, who said, "Vincent Lambert is alive, and he doesn't want to die." 
 
Viviane Lambert, the patient's mother, penned a letter to Catholic French President Emmanuel Macron challenging him about Monday's "stoppage of treatment" decision, saying
Image
Viviane Lambert, Vincent's mother

Mr. President, my son was sentenced to death ... my son did not deserve to be hungry and dehydrated ... Vincent's not in a coma, he's not sick, he's not connected. It's not a machine that keeps my son alive. He's breathing without assistance. ... Vincent is disabled but alive.

She continued, "If he must die, it is not for his dignity; it is by euthanasia. Vincent will be sacrificed to make an example. My son must be a school event." 

The Lejeune Foundation considers Sanchez's ruling a euthanasia procedure and have gathered more than 83,000 signatures to a petition against Lambert's death and posted a video showing him moving his head and eyes. 

Jean-Marie Le Méné, a French magistrate and the president of the foundation, reaffirms that Lambert "is not sick, he is not at the end of life, he does not suffer, he is relatively young and he never wanted to die. The best evidence is that a doctor interrupted his diet for 31 days, and Vincent Lambert clung to life, and he did not want to die." 

He is not at the end of life, he does not suffer, he is relatively young, and he never wanted to die.

Bishop Bernard Ginoux of Montauban, France, also publicly stated his support for Lambert's life, tweeting, "So this man lives. Just feed him. Stopping the food process means killing it ... My support in prayer and thought." 

Lambert's case has parallels to the situation involving Terri Schiavo in the United States who was euthanized in 2005. Schiavo's case, which made national news, was left brain-injured and comatose after suffering cardiac arrest in 1990. Her husband pushed for the removal of her feeding tube while her Catholic parents campaigned to keep her alive.

After the court ordered the removal of her feeding tube, Schiavo died of dehydration and starvation after 13 days. 

Currently, the French Parliament is debating over whether to change its bioethics laws regarding euthanasia. It is illegal in the country, except in cases of "passive euthanasia," where treatment to preserve life is either withheld or withdrawn.

Le Méné thinks that Lambert's murder will be the state's justification for passing and labeling his death as euthanasia which could have consequences for hundreds of patients in similar situations in France.  

 

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