His Wife Wanted to Pull Life Support; His Parents Didn't

'Halting of treatments' has begun for quadriplegic in divisive right-to-die case out of France
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2019 9:03 AM CDT
His Wife Wanted to Pull Life Support; His Parents Didn't
Viviane and Pierre Lambert, parents of Vincent Lambert, arrive July 23, 2015, at Sebastopol Hospital in Reims, France, where Vincent has been hospitalized.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

It's been an agonizing battle between Vincent Lambert's wife and his parents, and it appears his wife is getting the final say. The BBC reports the 42-year-old Frenchman, a quadriplegic who's been in a vegetative state since a motorcycle accident 11 years ago, is being taken off life support Monday, following a final judicial ruling that his mother and father are decrying. Lambert's wife has long argued for taking out his feeding tubes—he's still able to breathe without assistance and even sometimes opens his eyes—and the right-to-die case has split popular opinion down the middle in France, where euthanasia is against the law, though doctors can put terminally ill patients in deep sedation, or "passive euthanasia," until they die, per the New York Times. The case has gone all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, which upheld a lower French court's decision to let Lambert be taken off life support.

That court order was never carried out, due to security concerns spurred by Lambert's father, who feared his son would be abducted. Lambert's wife, Rachel, agreed in 2013 with his medical team that efforts to improve his condition were in vain, and says her husband would never want to be kept alive like this. She reportedly has five or six of her husband's siblings and his nephew in her corner; two other siblings are siding with Lambert's Roman Catholic parents. The elder Lamberts had said Sunday they planned to appeal the ruling, but a doctor treating Lambert at a Reims hospital informed his family Monday that the "halting of treatments" and "profound and continued sedation" had begun, the Guardian reports. A lawyer for Lambert's parents called the move "shameful," adding, "[The parents] could not even embrace their son" one last time." (More right to die stories.)

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