A severely disabled French man, who has been artificially fed and hydrated in a hospital in northeastern France for over 10 years, was taken off life support Monday, hours before the hospital was ordered by a French court to return the support.
A French court had ruled in favor of euthanizing Vincent Lambert earlier this month.
Doctors in a hospital in Reims had removed Lambert’s feeding and hydration tubes early May 20, and were beginning to administer sedatives, when a challenge passed the Paris appeals court and the hospital was ordered to delay ending life support.
The decision was delayed in order to give the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is affiliated with the United Nations, more time to review the case.
Euthanasia is illegal in France. However, a 2005 law allows physicians to refrain from using “disproportionate” treatments “with no other effect than maintaining life artificially.”
Lambert, 42, has been a tetraplegic and severely disabled for more than 10 years, after he sustained severe head injuries in a traffic accident in 2008.
Since then, Lambert has been at the center of a protracted court battle over whether to have his food and hydration removed. Lambert’s wife and six of his eight siblings have supported the removal of life support, while his parents have fought against it.
Pope Francis and Vatican officials have condemned the removal of food and hydration from Vincent Lambert.
The Holy Father on Monday said “those who live with severe illness” should have life protected until “its natural end”, as doctors in France began turning off the life support of a man in a vegetative state.
Pope Francis said in a message on social media Tuesday: “Let us always safeguard life, God’s gift, from its beginning until its natural end. Let us not give in to a throwaway culture.”
The interim director of the Holy See’s press office, Alessandro Gisotti, retweeted the pope’s words, writing in French that “we pray for Vincent Lambert”.
In a joint statement May 21, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said the interruption of food and hydration entail a “serious violation of the dignity of the person.”
Lambert has been described by some medical professionals as being in a “vegetative state.” Farrell and Paglia stated that though this is a “serious pathological condition,” it does not in any way “compromise the dignity of the persons who are in this condition, nor their fundamental rights to life and care, understood as continuity of basic human assistance.”
Read more at National Catholic Register