Aleteia

European Court Votes to “Kill a Disabled Person,” Says French Bishop

© CITIZENSIDE/CLAUDE TRUONG-NGOC / AFP
FRANCE-COURT-HEALTH-EUTHANASIA-EUROPE-RIGHTS FRANCE, Strasbourg : Viviane Lambert (R) looks on prior to the hearing in the case of her son, Vincent, a quadriplegic man who is currently on artificial life support in a hospital in Reims, at the European Court of Human Rights in the eastern French city of the Strasbourg on June 5, 2015. Europe's rights court upheld the decision of a French court to allow a man in a vegetative state to be taken off life support, in a ruling that could become a benchmark on the continent. The court ruled that a decision to stop intravenously feeding Vincent Lambert, who was left severely brain damaged and quadriplegic as a result of a 2008 road accident, did not violate European rights laws. - CITIZENSIDE/CLAUDE TRUONG-NGOC
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Like the mother of Vincent Lambert, two bishops and five of the 17 judges of the European Court of Human Rights howl with indignation at the ruling delivered by the Court on 5 June allowing him to be euthanized.

After the confirmation of the death sentence pronounced against Vincent Lambert by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Vincent Lambert’s mother (pictured above, with his lawyer) expressed her grief, her anger and her unwavering desire to save her son: "Far from despairing because of the decision, this 70-year-old woman who sparked the legal battle against the medical team and Rachel Lambert, is more than ever ready to fight," said the Journal du Dimanche. For her, a possible withdrawal of the tubes that hydrate and feed the former nurse is euthanasia. This would not be helping him to die, it would be killing him. (…) ‘Vincent is not at the end of his life. If they start again, we will go to court again,’ she promises."

"We do not want to cause his death"

This is also the very clear opinion of the first religious leaders to react, Bishop Marc Aillet, Bishop of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron, and Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon. Cardinal Barbarin did not hide his indignation when interviewed on RTL radio Sunday night: "The European Court’s decision offends me deeply because, in fact, this man is alive! His heart beats, he breathes by himself, his eyelids move, and he does not need a ventilator. They say, we must ‘unplug him’, but he is not plugged in (…) we, what we do not want, is to cause his death! Because we must respect his life. I have heard the lawyers’ opinions: ‘Human Rights for healthy people.’ And what rights does a man have if he is not in good health? What are his rights? The European Court of Human Rights was created at the end of World War II precisely to protect the disabled. I imagine that many people with disabilities and their families will be very upset by this completely incomprehensible decision."  The day of the ECHR’s verdict, Bishop Aillet tweeted: "In Europe today, 12 people have voted to kill a disabled person #VincentLambert. And tomorrow?"

"Euthanasia under a different name"

No less explicit but unprecedented are the reactions by five judges of the European Court of Human Rights, in disagreement with the June 5 ruling, who criticize it for having authorized by a majority the decision to kill Vincent Lambert by depriving him of nourishment and hydration. They are the representatives of Malta, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Slovakia and Azerbaijan. For them, they write, "This case is one of euthanasia, even if under a different name." 

Their criticisms are written up in the same Annexes of the judgment, and they are "extremely severe" says Le Figaro, not only "against this judgment but also against the Court itself, that they now disavow even as far as its legitimacy to bear its name." They also point out that although Vincent Lambert is in a "chronic vegetative state" and a "minimally conscious state", "in no way can it be said that [he] is in an end-of-life situation." And they launched this outraged appeal: "What, we therefore ask, can justify a State in allowing a doctor –in this case not so much to “pull the plug” as to withdraw or discontinue feeding and hydration so as to, in effect, starve Vincent Lambert to death? " "In 2010, to mark its fiftieth anniversary, the Court accepted the title of The Conscience of Europe, conclude the five judges. We regret that the Court has, with this judgment, forfeited the above-mentioned title."
 

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