Court rules patient can be starved to death against his will

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By Nigel Boys

A European court has issued a ruling that 39-year-old Vincent Lambert can be taken off life support without his consent and against the will of his parents. The decision only needed the agreement of his wife, which overturned a decision by a French court in 2014.

Lambert has been “in a state of minimal consciousness” and on a life support system for the past seven years since a motorcycle accident in 2008, according to Life News. He was declared a vegetable last year, and his wife, Rachel, and five of his siblings agreed with a doctor that feeding him through a tube should be stopped, thereby ending his life.

Rachel believed that her husband would not want to continue to live in such a state; his parents, however, disagreed and took the matter to court. The BBC reports that on Friday, the European Court of Human Rights, by a vote of 12-5, declared that the state may take Lambert’s life against his will by stopping his supply of food and water.

Declaring that Lambert had shown signs last year of resisting being fed, doctors recommended that his life should be ended, since there was no hope of recovery. His wife and some of his brothers and sisters agreed.

Eric Kariger, the doctor who made the initial request to stop feeding Lambert in January 2014, said, “This is a small step for Vincent Lambert and his wife, but probably a giant step for our humanity.”

Lambert’s parents and two other siblings disagreed, arguing that he should be kept alive. They intend to appeal the decision of the European Court.

It’s scandalous,” said Lambert’s mother, Viviane, following the ruling. “They are condemning my son. We will remain by Vincent’s side and will continue to fight.”

“There’s no relief, no joy to express,” said Rachel Lambert after the ruling. “We’d just like his will to be done.”

“We regret that the Court has, with this judgment, forfeited the title of ‘The Conscience of Europe’ it was awarded in 2010 for its fiftieth anniversary,” the five judges siding with Lambert’s parents and protecting his right to life wrote in a dissent. “The European Court of Human Rights again further turns human rights into an individualistic and utilitarian ideology.”

The European Court of Human Rights also refused Lambert’s parents the right to complain on his behalf about stopping his physiotherapy care three years ago, subjecting him to inhumane treatment, according to Gregor Puppinck of the ELCJ, a pro-life legal group.

“Thus, the Court not only held that in Europe, we can again legally induce the death of a disabled patient who did not ask to die, but in addition, it denies that patient the protection of the Convention against mistreatment,” Puppinck said. “By refusing to guarantee the right to life and to medical care for Vincent Lambert, the Court is turning a page in the history of human rights in Europe. The Court reintroduced into the European legality the possibility to euthanize a disabled person, even though it is precisely against this ideology that the European Convention on Human Rights was proclaimed in 1950.”

 

 

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8 Comments

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