Monday 5 December 2016

Wife wins landmark case to take husband off life-support

Henry Samuel in Paris

Published 06/06/2015 | 02:30

Vincent Lambert’s wife Rachel
Vincent Lambert’s wife Rachel

The European Court of Human Rights has authorised France to take quadriplegic Vincent Lambert off life-support in a landmark decision.

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The plight of the 38-year old, who was left severely brain damaged after a 2008 road accident, has split his family and sparked a fierce euthanasia debate in France.

His wife Rachel, who like him is a psychiatric nurse, has said he would never have wanted to be kept alive artificially, and that she wanted to "let him go".

Moved to tears at the Strasbourg-based ruling, she said: "My thoughts are very much with my husband. There's no relief, no joy to express. We'd just like his will to be done."

However, his mother, Viviane, a devout Catholic who wishes to keep him alive, said her fight would continue. "It's a scandalous. They are condemning my son. We will remain by Vincent's side and will continue to fight," she said.

In January 2014, Lambert's doctors, backed by his wife and six of his eight siblings plus a nephew decided to stop the intravenous food and water keeping him alive in line with a 2005 passive euthanasia law in France.

The decision was made after Lambert appeared to resist attempts to be fed, suggesting he wished to die.

However, his parents, half-brother and sister won an urgent court application to stop the plan, arguing that he was suffering from a "handicap", not an "incurable brain disease".

In an appeal, the French supreme administrative court ruled that the decision to withdraw care from a man with no hope of recovery was lawful.

Lambert's parents then took the case to the Strasbourg-based ECHR, which ordered France to keep Lambert alive while they deliberated on whether the State Council's decision was in line with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Irish Independent

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