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European rights court to rule on French tetraplegic ‘euthanasia’ case

Lambert's parents, Pierre et Viviane, in court in Chalons-en-Champagne lin January last year
Lambert's parents, Pierre et Viviane, in court in Chalons-en-Champagne lin January last year AFP

The European Court of Human Rights was to rule on Wednesday on whether a French man who has been in a vegetative state for the last six years be allowed to die. The case has divided his family and grabbed headlines as it made its way through the French courts.

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Vincent Lambert, 38, was left paralysed after a car accident in 2008.

He is currently kept alive through artificial feeding and hydration but doctors have concluded that he is unlikely to ever emerge from a vegetative state.

His wife, Rachel, and six of his eight brothers want life support to be cut off.

France’s highest court, the Council of State, ruled in June that doctors could stop life support, basing its decision on the medical prognosis and Rachel Lambert’s claims that her husband had made it clear he would not want his life to be prolonged artificially.

But Lambert’s parents, a sister and a half brother, who are devout Catholics, took the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

For them, suspending life support is euthanasia and therefore murder.

Medically assisted suicide is currently illegal in France but a change in the law is currently being debated.

The European Court of Human Rights suspended the French ruling on Vincent Lambert, keeping him on life support while it examined the case.

The court’s cases usually last several years but it is expected to rule within the next month or two on the Lambert case.

 

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