The deceased on Thursday was an 11-year-old, paralyzed French man whose medical treatment was shut down nine days ago by his doctors. Vincent Lambert has for years been a symbol of the euthanasia debate in France, after his husband’s parents turned to justice to protest against the decision of the wife and doctors to stop treatment.
“Vincent died at 8:24 pm this morning at” Reims University Hospital, “said Francois Lambert, a 42-year-old nurse who was a car accident in 2008. “We are prepared to let go,” he added, who was informed by doctors about his uncle’s death news, confirmed by the lawyers of Vincent Lambert’s parents.
His 11-year-old man who had been kept alive for a lifetime had found his doctors to suffer irreversible brain damage and no communication with him. Six of the patient’s wife and eight siblings therefore requested six years ago to stop living, that is, to stop artificial hydration. The man’s deeply religious, Roman Catholic parents, however, have been opposed from the very beginning.
The patient’s doctor, Vincent Sanchez, told the family on July 2 that they would stop treatment the next night after the jury on 28 June allowed this procedure. In addition to stopping artificial hydration, the medical procedure required deep and continuous anesthesia until death.
The announcement ended with a long and painful family and judicial drama, followed by the French media.
In fact, stopping the treatment was decided on May 20, when the European Court of Human Rights rejected Vincent Lambert’s parents’ submission to stop suspending their son’s treatment. The court argued that there is no “new element” compared to the previous situation. However, the Paris Court of Appeal ordered the resumption of treatment the next day, at the parents’ request, while the cassation court, at the wife’s request, approved the cessation of treatment.
Lambert’s affair shared not only his family but also French society. On Tuesday evening, about twenty were given to support parents in the Reims Hospital to stop treatment. Following the submission of the parents’ lawyers on Wednesday, the judiciary initiated a preliminary investigation with suspicion of a deliberate attempted homicide in a criminal organization.
In this case, Pope Francis also took a stand and called on Twitter to protect life from conception to natural death. The French President Emmanuel Macron, who was under pressure from the opponents of euthanasia, refused to intervene in the matter, which he thought was a matter for the doctors.
The 42-year-old man was completely paralyzed after a 2008 motor accident. He was almost completely unconscious, but was able to breathe without a ventilator and occasionally moved his eyes.
Even in January 2014, the hospital decided to stop the treatment, but the patients’ parents immediately turned to the local court, which ordered the continuation of the treatment. His mother then said that Vincent Lambert was still “present” and communicating with them. The wife turned to the State Council, the French Supreme Court for legal remedy and approved the medical decision. It was also the first time that the Supreme Legal and Administrative Institution took a position on the legality of a medical decision affecting the issue of artificial survival.
In June 2015, the European Court of Human Rights approved the decision of the State Council, based on a medical opinion ordered by the French judges. This confirmed the diagnosis of doctors and recommended the annulment of the decision of the local administrative court, referring to the so-called Leonetti Act, adopted in 2005, which in some cases allows the patient to “die”.
The court in Strasbourg also considered that Vincent Lambert had clearly and repeatedly expressed his wish not to keep him alive before the accident.
In 2016, the Reims Court placed Vincent Lambert under the auspices of his wife, Rachel Lambert, who supported euthanasia.
In France, helping patients to die is illegal, but a 2016 law will allow passive euthanasia for incurable patients, which means a continuous drought to the patient’s death.