Since a traffic accident in 2008, Vincent Lambert has been in a semi-vegetative state. But now, French courts are ordering his life to end.
Living in a hospital in Reims, the 42-year-old former nurse can sleep and wake up, responds to certain voices, and can swallow and breath on his own, according to Reuters. Though he isn’t dependent on machines to live, he does require medical assistance for proper nutrition and hydration.
The decision to move forward to end Lambert’s life came last week from France’s top court. The Cour de Cassation overruled a May court order, forcing doctors to keep the patient alive a mere 12 hours after medics had already turned off his life support against his parents’ desires.
“In May, when learning about his planned death, he cried,” Lambert’s mother, Viviane, told Reuters, adding she had turned to the United Nations Committee of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, arguing before the international body her son is experiencing a form of discrimination “because the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities prohibits depriving a person of food and drink.”
Both of Lambert’s parents, who oppose euthanizing their son, are Catholic and are supported by two of Lambert’s siblings. His remaining six brothers and sisters, as well as his wife Rachel, would like to end Lambert’s life support, The Guardian reported.
In her comments to the U.N., Viviane argued removing her son’s feeding tube would be akin to “murder.”
“I beg you, help us,” she said. “Without your intervention, my son, Vincent Lambert, will be euthanized because of his mental handicap.”
The case, which has sparked a renewed debate in France over euthanasia, even prompted Pope Francis to weight in on the issue. In May, he tweeted his support for Lambert’s life.
“Let us pray for those who live in a state of severe disability,” he wrote. “Let us always protect life, God’s gift, from beginning to natural end. Let’s not give in to the cultivation of waste.”
Bobby Schindler, president of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network, responded this week to the French court’s ruling. In a statement to Live Action, he described the decision as “a crime against common sense.”
“Vincent is being killed by the French state, and this killing is intentionally being caused by a denial of food and water,” he said. “If we treated any other disabled person this way, it would be rightly seen as an outrageous injustice.”
Schindler added, “We have to awaken the consciences of our brothers and sisters to recognize the humanity and dignity of Vincent Lambert and those like him — lives are literally at stake.”
Others have voiced support for Lambert, too:
While it’s unclear yet what will happen, it’s worth noting the French government recently rejected a U.N. request to keep Lambert alive, arguing national officials would instead conduct their own investigation of the matter. They argued the international body’s request is “non-binding.”
Please continue to pray for the Lambert family and all those involved in this situation.