Victory in Court for French Patient Condemned to Death

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by Alexander Slavsky  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 23, 2018   

Comes after doctor ordered euthanasia of Vincent Lambert within 10 days

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CHÂLONS-EN-CHAMPAGNE, France (ChurchMilitant.com) - A French administrative court is granting a reprieve for an unconscious man with paralysis, despite a decision by his doctor to remove hydration and nutrition.  

News broke Friday that the Administrative Court of Châlons-en-Champagne blocked an order from Dr. Vincent Sanchez, Vincent Lambert's physician, to euthanize him within 10 days following a ruling on April 9. Judge Olivier Nizet also ordered a future expert assessment of the patient by three specialists named by an administrative tribunal. 

Lambert was injured in a 2008 car crash which left him severely brain damaged in a coma as a quadriplegic, and he is receiving basic hydration and nutrition at the Sebastopol Hospital in Reims, France.

Judge Olivier Nizet also ordered a future expert assessment of the patient by three specialists named by an administrative tribunal. 

Lawyers for Lambert's Catholic parents filed an application for their son's transfer to a specialized institution, along with 70 doctors and medical professionals who made an appeal for the sick man in the French daily newspaper Le Figaro on Wednesday, calling Sanchez's decision "dramatic and unfathomable punishment." A judiciary decision is expected following the future assessment and a report to the tribunal. 

Besides his legal defense, parents, his two sisters and one half-brother are also opposed to ending his life and want to transfer him to a specialized institution. But Lambert's wife, Rachel, six other siblings and a nephew support ending his life via dehydration and starvation.
 
The signatories also watched recent videos of Lambert that shows him breathing on his own, responding to stimuli and his condition remaining stable. They added that past rulings leave them "extremely worried," while attacking Sanchez's decision to remove his feeding tube as "euthanasia that does not say its name."
 
 
They, along with Lambert's parents, also condemned the treatment the sick man was receiving at Sebastopol. 
 
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." 
 
The signatories also watched recent videos of Lambert that shows him breathing on his own, responding to stimuli and his condition remaining stable.
Pope Francis offered his prayers for Lambert in April 15's Regina Coeli address in St. Peter's Square, saying, "I entrust to your prayers the people, such as Vincent Lambert in France, little Alfie Evans in England and others in various countries, who live, at times for long periods, in a state of severe infirmity, medically assisted in their basic needs." 
 
Alfie Evans was born healthy in May 2016 but after missing a number of developmental milestones, Alfie's parents knew something was wrong. In December of that year, the sick toddler suffered a chest infection and was hospitalized for seizures. He has remained on life support at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool, England, ever since. 
 
"These are delicate, very painful and complex situations. Let us pray that every sick person may always be respected in his/her dignity and cared for in a way suited to his/her condition, with the unanimous support of family members, physicians and other healthcare professionals, with great respect for life," continued the Holy Father. 

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. 

 

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