Court Orders Life Support to Resume in French Euthanasia Case


A court in France has ordered the resumption of life support for a severely disabled man. The ruling came hours after doctors began switching off life support systems of Vincent Lambert, whose case has divided France, as well as his own family. His parents have repeatedly launched court action to keep him alive - while his wife and five siblings believe he should be dehydrated to death under sedation. The 42-year-old was left quadriplegic with severe brain damage after a car accident in 2008.


Doctors began to withdraw life support following a judicial ruling to end the nutrition and hydration Lambert receives in the Sebastopol Hospital in the northern French city of Reims. Jean Paillot, the lawyer for Vincent Lambert’s parents, called this “shameful”, adding: “They (the parents) could not even embrace their son.”


But an appeals court in Paris ordered authorities “to take all measures” to keep Vincent Lambert alive, pending a review by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


Mr Lambert's mother,  Viviane, 73, hailed the ruling as “a very big victory” in her struggle to maintain vital medical care for her son. An emotional video of Viviane comforting her son in his room, telling him not to cry as he appears to blink away tears, was posted on the website of the conservative Valeurs Actuelles magazine.


The case has re-ignited a contentious debate over France’s laws, which allow “passive” euthanasia for severely ill or injured patients judged to have no chance of recovery. In 2014, Mr Lambert’s doctors, backed by his wife and several of his siblings, decided to stop his nutrition and hydration in line with this law. But his parents, his half-brother and a sister obtained a court order to block the move on grounds that his condition might improve with better treatment, setting off a complex and wrenching legal saga that has lasted half a decade.

RTÉ. May 21. RTÉ. May 20.

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