Frenchman kept alive

Vince Lambert
Vince Lambert
Image: Handout via AFP

Doctors on Tuesday resumed the life support for a Frenchman who has been in a vegetative state for more than a decade, following a court order to restore it hours after the switching off process began, lawyers said.

“We have the pleasure to inform you that the hydration and feeding of Vincent Lambert has been resumed,” a lawyer for the parents who vehemently oppose ending his life, Jean Paillot said, after a ruling late on Monday by the Paris appeals court.

The Paris court ordered authorities to take all measures to keep alive Lambert, a 42-yearold quadraplegic with severe brain damage, pending a review by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Earlier on Monday, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg rejected a request by the parents to halt the decision over the cessation of life-support pending the review by the UN committee.

Doctors in France on Monday morning halted the nutrition and hydration Lambert received, in line with the wishes of his wife and six siblings.

The legal saga over the fate of Lambert, who has been kept alive after a traffic accident in 2008, has lasted more than half a decade, split his family and divided France.

Lambert’s parents, devout Catholics, have repeatedly launched court action to keep him alive, putting them at odds with Lambert’s wife and siblings, who believe the most humane course is to let him die.

Before the latest court ruling, Pope Francis had weighed in on Monday in favour of keeping Lambert alive.

“Let us always safeguard life, God’s gift, from its beginning until its natural end,” he said.

“Let us not give in to a throwaway culture.”

The issue has also taken on a political importance in France in the midst of the campaign for European elections.

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

The UN committee on disabled rights had in May asked France to suspend the decision for it to conduct its own investigation, which could take years.

The French government has said it will note the committee’s deliberations but that there was no legal obligation for it to abide by them.