Quantcast
Connect with us

Top French court says life support can be ended in landmark right-to-die case

Published

on

France’s highest appeals court said Friday that the life support mechanisms keeping a severely brain-damaged man alive can be turned off “from now”, a lawyer for his wife said, in the latest legal twist in a landmark right-to-die case.

Vincent Lambert, 42, has been in a vegetative state since a 2008 traffic accident, with the question of whether to continue keeping him alive artificially bitterly dividing his family and the nation.

ADVERTISEMENT

“This definitely ends the matter,” said Patrice Spinosi, legal counsel for Lambert’s wife Rachel, who believes the most humane course of action is to let her husband die.

“There is no other recourse possible because there are no more judges to appeal to,” he said.

The ruling reverses a decision by another Paris court which last month ordered that Lambert’s feeding tubes be reinserted, just hours after doctors began switching off life support.

The Cour de Cassation did not consider the arguments for or against keeping Lambert alive, but only the question of whether the lower court was competent to rule on the case.

ADVERTISEMENT

In Friday’s decision, it found that the appeal court was not competent in a ruling that is final.

The emotive case has taken the warring Lambert family to the top tribunals in France and Europe, with Lambert’s parents, who are devout Catholics, fighting a six-year legal battle to maintain his treatment.

ADVERTISEMENT

But his wife, along with doctors, six of his siblings and a nephew have been hoping Friday’s decision would end the legal battle once and for all.

Lawyers for the parents are now threatening to press “murder” charges if his life support is halted.

– Right to die, or not –

ADVERTISEMENT

The May 20 court decision had itself reversed an earlier ruling giving doctors at the hospital in the northwestern city of Reims the green light to remove Lambert’s feeding and water tubes.

The Cour de Cassation was asked to rule on that judgement in an appeal by the French government and the Reims hospital.

The case has rekindled a charged debate over France’s right-to-die laws, which allow so-called “passive” euthanasia for severely ill or injured patients with no chance of recovery.

ADVERTISEMENT

President Emmanuel Macron had in May rejected calls by Lambert’s parents and others to intervene to keep him alive, saying the decision to stop treatment “was taken after a constant dialogue between his doctors and his wife, who is his legal representative”.

The European Court of Human Rights also rejected an appeal by Lambert’s parents.

But the UN committee on disabled rights asked France to keep Lambert alive while it conducted its own investigation into his fate — a request the French government rejected as non-binding.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lambert’s wife says her husband had previously told her he would not want to be kept artificially alive if in a vegetative state — a position he never put in writing.

But his mother Viviane has insisted he “just needs something to drink and eat, and love”.

She, his father Pierre and two of Lambert’s other siblings are adamant that he is not at the end of his life.

ADVERTISEMENT

The case has even drawn in Pope Francis, who tweeted last month that it was necessary to “always safeguard life, God’s gift, from its beginning until its natural end”.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Before Trump eyed Greenland: Here’s what happened last time the US bought a large chunk of the Arctic

Published

on

Editor’s note: Reports that President Donald Trump has urged aides to look into buying Greenland make us think of the last time the United States bought a major territory in the Arctic: the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. Two years ago, we asked William L. Iggiagruk Hensley, a visiting professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, to write about that historic sale.

Continue Reading

Activism

‘That is ridiculous’: Andrew Gillum obliterates Santorum for claiming guns aren’t ‘problem’ in mass shootings

Published

on

CNN contributor Andrew Gillum called conservative pundit Rick Santorum "ridiculous" on Sunday for suggesting that guns are not the problem in mass shootings.

During a CNN discussion on gun control, Santorum criticized calls from Democratic candidates for the government to buy back assault-style weapons in addition to banning them.

"The truth is something has to give," Gillum said. "The stranglehold that the NRA seems to have over Congress, over Washington, D.C., in my opinion, is insane. How can we put the priorities of one interest group above the safety, the security of the American people?"

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

CNN’s Jake Tapper confronts Trump adviser Navarro with long list of experts calling him a disaster

Published

on

In a highly contentious interview on CNN's "State of the Union", host Jake Tapper confronted Donald Trump's top economic adviser, Peter Navarro, with a seemingly endless list of economists, analysts and business publications who believe he and his economic advice have both been a disaster and that he is not being straight with the public.

After refusing multiple times to concede that President Donald Trump's trade war -- and accompanying tariffs -- are having any effect on an economy that many financial prognosticators believe is headed towards a recession, Tapper confronted the White House adviser with the list of his critics -- including the Wall Street Journal.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image