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MEDICINE EUTHANASIA

Parents try to save severely brain-damaged man from judicial dead end

Fighting for her son's right to life: Viviane Lambert, mother of the severely injured Vincent Lambert.
Fighting for her son's right to life: Viviane Lambert, mother of the severely injured Vincent Lambert. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler/Files

The parents of Vincent Lambert, paralysed and severely handicapped following a road accident ten years ago, are to launch a new appeal to prevent the termination of his life-preserving treatment.

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The parents of the Frenchman kept alive in a vegetative state for a decade will on Monday try to have the doctor caring for their son removed before he halts life-sustaining treatment the same day.

The last-ditch move by the parents of Vincent Lambert – left quadriplegic with severe brain damage after a 2008 car accident – aims to have the doctor immediately struck off France's medical register.

The parents will also seek to have the doctor, Vincent Sanchez, criminally prosecuted and lodge new appeals to ensure continuing care for Lambert.

The flurry of legal action comes just ahead of the planned halt Monday of the nutrition and hydration Lambert receives in the Sebastopol Hospital in the northern French city of Reims.

His parents have already asked President Emmanuel Macron to step in and override the court order.

A battle of conflicting beliefs

The case has torn the family apart, pitting them legally and emotionally against other relatives who concur with doctors that the humane path given Lambert's condition is to end life support.

In 2014, the doctors, backed by Lambert's wife Rachel, five of his siblings and his nephew François, decided to stop his nutrition and hydration in line with France's passive euthanasia law.

His parents, devout Catholics, and his half-brother and sister obtained a court order to block the move on grounds his condition might improve with better treatment.

But early this year, a French court sided with Dr Sanchez's decision to stop the care keeping Lambert, now aged 42, alive, in line with the country's laws permitting passive euthanasia.

France's Conference of Bishops has added its voice to the controversy, calling on authorities to wait for the opinion of a UN committee on disabled rights.

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