Vincent Lambert has been saved. The 42-year-old Frenchman has been severely disabled since an accident in 2008. For the second time, his wife and doctors tried to starve and dehydrate the brain-injured man to death. At the last moment, his parents’ appeal was reviewed in a Paris court. The court’s decision to restore nutrition and hydration brought France in line with the interim measures of the UN Committee for the Rights of Disabled Persons and halted the killing of a brain-injured man.
LifeSiteNews reports that on Monday, Lambert’s hydration and feeding tube were removed, and he was heavily sedated. He was expected to die within days, mainly due to dehydration. However, Terri Schiavo, an American woman whose case bears similarity to Lambert’s, lived for almost 14 agonizing days without food and water before passing away.
Miraculously, the court agreed to hear the emergency appeal from Vincent’s family late Monday and presented the court order to the hospital on Tuesday. Following the ruling, Lambert’s mother told the press, “They were starting to eliminate Vincent.” She added, “This is a very big victory. They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink. For once I am proud of the courts.” One of Lambert’s lawyer called the ruling a “miracle.”
This is not the first miracle Lambert has experienced. In 2013, his wife successfully had all food and most hydration withheld from Lambert for more than 30 days. Following a court order, nutrition and hydration were restored, and Lambert continued to live.
During the most recent controversy, in addition to the UN, other international bodies have weighed in on the ethical issues at the heart of Lambert’s case. In a statement, Vatican officials wrote that they “wish to reiterate the grave violation of the dignity of the person that the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration would constitute.” The statement continued, “The suspension of such care represents, rather, a form of abandonment of the patient, based on a pitiless judgment of the quality of life, expression of a throwaway culture that selects the most fragile and helpless people, without recognizing their uniqueness and immense value.”
Sentiments across France were even stronger. Pro-Life French people marched in the streets carrying banners that read, “the quality of a civilization is measured by the respect it gives to the weakest,” and thousands called a special line set up in the offices of French President Emmanuel Macron. Despite a direct appeal from Lambert’s mother, Macron refused to intervene on behalf of Lambert.
Although Lambert’s victory in the courts in his continued fight for the Right to Life is important, there are many other battles to be fought. Lambert’s case may seem extreme—starving and dehydrating to death a man who is brain-injured, disabled but otherwise healthy. But Terri Schiavo, in very similar circumstances was an American, and our country did not protect her Right to Life.
Even in Texas, vulnerable patients do not have assurance that their Right to Life will be protected and that they and their families will have control over life-and-death decisions. The recent, harrowing case of Carolyn Jones illustrates that Texans are not protected. In addition to Carolyn, countless other Texans have been threatened by the anti-Life Texas 10-Day Rule.
Despite the clear threat, the Texas House killed the bill that would have increased the draconian 10-day period to 45 days. For the next two years, Texas hospitals will continue to have the unjust power to pull the plug on patients like Carolyn. Carolyn’s daughter Kina Jones said, “Those who support the 10-Day Rule clearly haven’t experienced it themselves.”
The miraculous turn of events that saved Vincent Lambert’s life are a reminder of how much is at stake and how far we have to go to protect Life in Texas.