VATICAN WEIGHS IN ON RIGHT-TO-DIE CASE IN FRANCE

VATICAN WEIGHS IN ON RIGHT-TO-DIE CASE IN FRANCE

THE BACKGROUND: (BBC)

A French court has ordered doctors to resume life support for a quadriplegic man whose case has become central to the right-to-die debate in France.

Doctors had begun switching off life support for Vincent Lambert, 42, on Monday, before the court order.

Mr. Lambert has been in a vegetative state since a 2008 motorcycle accident.

His care has divided the country and his family. His wife has called for his feeding tubes to be withdrawn; his parents insist he be kept alive.

Mr. Lambert’s mother Viviane, 73, hailed the latest ruling as “a very big victory” in her struggle to maintain her son’s life support. “They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink. For once I am proud of the courts,” she said.

Doctors had earlier on Monday halted the nutrition and hydration Lambert receives, in line with the wishes of his wife and other relatives.

An earlier judicial ruling had said Mr. Lambert should be removed from life support and that process had begun before Monday evening’s dramatic reversal by the Paris Court of Appeal.

JOINT DECLARATION FROM DICASTERY FOR FAMILY, LAITY AND LIFE AND PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE ON VINCENT LAMBERT CASE:

“In fully sharing what was stated by Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, and by Auxiliary Bishop Bruno Feillet, in relation to the sad story of Mr. Vincent Lambert, we wish to reiterate the serious violation of the dignity of the person, which the interruption of food and hydration entails The ‘vegetative state’, in fact, was certainly a serious pathological condition, which however 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.

“Nutrition and hydration are a form of essential care that is always proportionate to the maintenance of life: feeding a sick person is never a form of unreasonable therapeutic obstinacy, as long as the person’s body is able to absorb nutrition and hydration, unless doing that causes intolerable suffering or is harmful to the patient.

“The suspension of these treatments represents, rather, a form of abandonment of the patient, based on a merciless judgment on his quality of life, expression of a culture of waste that selects the most fragile and defenseless people, without recognizing their uniqueness and immense value. The continuity of assistance is an inescapable duty.

“We therefore hope that effective solutions can be found as soon as possible to protect the life of Mr. Lambert. To this end, we assure the prayer of the Holy Father and of the whole Church.

Kevin Cardinal Farrell,
Prefect, Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia,
President, Pontifical Academy for Life