The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will deliberate this week on the fate of Vincent Lambert, the 38 year old quadriplegic currently being in a vegetative state. The Strasbourg judges will consider the case at a hearing. The hearing concerns teh conflict between his wife Rachel, who wishes to “let him go” and his parents, who refuse to stop the feeding and artificial hydration of their son.
The parents challenge the decision of the French State Council in June last year to allow the cessation of the feeding and artificial hydration that keep him alive. The ECHR earlier suspended the decision the day she was taken, thus procuring time to conduct its own procedure. According to the State Council, the decision to stop the treatment made by the chief doctor of the Palliative Care Unit of the University Hospital of Reims in January 2014, with the agreement of Rachel, was legal and consistent with the framework outlined by the 2005 Leonetti Law.
The Council of State considered life support to be an “unreasonable obstacle” given the irreversible vegetative of Vincent Lambert and the poor clinical prognosis. The council also emphasized the desire Vincent Lambert expressed according to his wife, before the accident in 2008, not to be artificially kept alive if he was in a state of dependence.
This new episode of the “Vincent Lambert case” coincides with the newly relaunched debate in France on the end of life. A debate without a vote is to be held on this subject on January 21 at the National Assembly, on the basis of proposals from MPs Alain Claeys (PS) and Jean Leonetti (UMP) , delivered in December to Francois Hollande.
The ECHR will not publish their conclusions before two month’s.