Monday, July 1, 2019

Vincent Lambert ordered to die by France's highest appeal court.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


Sign the petition: Protect Vincent Lambert's Life.

Vincent Lambert
On Friday, June 28, France's highest appeal court ordered that treatment and care, including food and fluid, be withdrawn from Vincent Lambert, a man who was cognitively disabled in a motorcycle accident injury in 2008.

On May 20, Euro news reported that doctors, at a hospital in Reims France, were sedating Lambert as part of the process to withdraw fluids and food to cause him to die by dehydration, as approved by a court order.

Later, that day, Euro news reported that the Court of Appeal in Paris ordered that Lambert be fed and hydrated. The decision was in response to the UN Disability Rights Commission appeal. BBC news reported Lambert's mother as saying:

"They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink. For once I am proud of the courts," she said.
According to France 24, on Friday the Cour de Cassation reversed the decision of the Paris Court of Appeal. The article stated:
The ruling reverses a decision by another Paris court which last month ordered that Lambert's feeding tubes be reinserted, just hours after doctors began switching off life support.

The Cour de Cassation did not consider the arguments for or against keeping Lambert alive, but only the question of whether the lower court was competent to rule on the case. 
In Friday's decision, it found that the appeal court was not competent in a ruling that is final.
The news article misrepresents Lambert's condition by stating the court approved turning off life support mechanisms. Lambert is not on "life support" he only needs to eat and drink.

In early May, 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities intervened in the Lambert case stating that causing Lambert's death by dehydration contravened his rights as a person with disabilities. Section 25f of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires nations to:
25(f) Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.
Therefore the decision of the highest court of appeal actually denies Lambert human rights.

Lambert is a cognitively disabled man who is not otherwise dying or nearing death. To directly and intentionally cause his death by withholding fluids is euthanasia by dehydration. If his fluids are withheld his death would not be from his medical condition but rather, he would die by dehydration, a terrible death.

23 comments:

Unknown said...

Alex, I greatly appreciate your enormous effort in fighting assisted death and providing opponents with fact-based arguments!

However, in this case you are regrettably misguided.

Withdrawing *artificial* life-sustaining treatment with fluid and nutrition via gastrostomy is not denying him basic health needs. It is accepting the course of his disease, which is or would be a fatal one, if not for medical interventions like the tube.

It is untrue that death from witholding fluid and nutrition is a terrible death. In the first place, it's uncertain what he really is able to experience, given his extensive brain damage. Secondly, any discomfort from lack of fluid and nutrition may be alleviated though palliative measures. Truly, none of us have experienced such a death so to report how it feels. But there is no evidence to support that it feels terrible.

To describe Lamberts as "a cognitively disabled man who is not otherwise dying or nearing death" is an euphemism that approaches meaningless. His disability is not simply "cognitive"; it is profound, and covers all but the most basic, vegetative functions. He is alive, 10 years on overtime, singly because his parents are working to deny him the right to a natural death.

It is very sad that the just and humane fight against assisted death is conflated with the fight to continue unjust and inhumane over-treatment of a defendeless man, even in spite of his declared wishes.

Suzanne J. said...

It would seem that France, like Canada, has also degenerated into a so-called 'democracy'; now being 'ruled' by The Courts and their UN-ELECTED JUDGES!! If I were that mother, I would do everything in my power to either, have him transferred to a Catholic Hospital or Hospice ... OR, bring him home and care for him there, MYSELF!!

Alex Schadenberg said...

The first comment stating I am wrong is wrong.
Vincent Lambert has a cognitive disability but he is not otherwise dying. Withholding food and fluids will mean that he will die by dehydration.

Food and fluids is not treatment, it is not inhumane, it is basic care.

The problem with modernism is that we have redefined terminology to make us feel better about doing something which is inherently wrong.

In fact it is inhumane to kill him by dehydration.

In case you don't think I understand the issue, clearly there is a difference between withdrawing food and fluid from a dying person who is nearing death. The person is experiencing organ failure and is approaching a natural death.

This is not the case for Vincent Lambert. He does not require medical treatment, only food, fluids and care.

Unknown said...

Laurel Stevens

RE the person who posted re food and fluid being artificial life sustaining... As a health professional who has provided Palliative Care, I must respectfully completely disagree. It is not artificial life sustaining. Food and fluid are a very normal part of everyday life - for everyone.
When a person is completely deprived of fluids in order to cause them to die, the eventual severe dehydration puts an insupportable burden on the heart and it eventually literally explodes. That is the cause of death - and it is excruciatingly painful. That is not my opinion - it is medical information. That "treatment" (ie lack of) should never be considered.

Anonymous said...

Laurel Stevens

As a retired Health Professional, I must totally disagree with the comment supporting withdrawal of food and fluids to cause death.
Dehydration eventually puts an insupportable load on the heart and it literally explodes - causing the death of the person. It is excruciatingly painful and very inhumane.

Nancy said...

The problem with modernism is that we have redefined terminology to make us feel better about MURDERING!

Unknown said...

Alex, respectfully, we disagree on this issue. One problem is that around the world, the decision to withold artificial life-sustaining treatment (like a ventilator, dialysis, or fluid and nutrition via gastrostomy) is conflated with the actual act of killing patients by euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Unfortunately, because large swaths of Western populations believe (correctly IMO) that a person like Vincent Lamberts ought to be spared life-prolonging measures that he apparently didn't want, this view carries over to the question of veritable assisted death.
So that ironically, tragically, the Vincent Lambert case may end up being the case paving the way for true euthanasia in France - and even other European countries.

I wish you could see this.

Alex Schadenberg said...

I wish you could see the distinction between killing and letting die and the other distinction that has been messed up is the difference between medical treatment and basic care.

Every time someone thinks I don't know what I'm talking about they send me a study by Linda Ganzini explaining that dehydration is a good death.

They forget that Ganzini is part of the death movement and conflated late stage cancer patients with other people who are not necessarily dying.

Death by dehydration is not the answer, it is not kind and it is not withdrawing extra-ordinary treatment.

Sure we can cover the pain and suffering that Lambert will experience by sedating him, but how humane is that?

Anyway, once death by dehydration has become common and normalized people will demand euthanasia. Death by lethal injection is far more compassionate than dehydrating them over 10 days.

Anonymous said...

I hope you don't have to be in the same place than Vincent Lambert! You, me and EVERYONE needs to be feeded, otherwise we will die, think again!

Janice said...

To 'Unknown' who disagrees with Alex and believes it "is not denying him basic health needs. It is accepting the course of his disease...". You are unequivocally WRONG.

I know what it feels like to be severely dehydrated and it is not, not, not nice. Secondly, this man does not have a 'disease' that is killing his body, he is disabled and is not dying.

I also know what it is like to give instructions to remove someone from food and hydration. Over 40 years ago I and my family instructed to have my Mother removed from food and hydration based on the doctor's recommendation. We were ignorant of what that involved and have only learned since then what exactly is involved. In my Mother's case, she was dying of a disease that was killing her, not a physical or cognitive disability. The decision was the wrong decision and had we the information on this subject then that is available now, we would never have allowed it.

There is a profound difference between a disease and a disability. I'm afraid you are either misguided on this subject and you simply do not know the details involved in assisted suicide.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Laurel Stevens, I'm very sorry, but it's hard to accept this description - the heart "literally exploding" as a consequence of dehydration - as a professional medical statement. Again, I'm sorry, but this seems unfounded in medical science.
If anything, dehydration leeds to reduction in blood volume, and decrease in the circulation.

The idea that dying after withdrawal of artificial fluid and nutrition at the end of life is "excruciatingly painful" lacks basis in any professional source I know of. I challenge you to provide any evidence to support it.

As for Vincent Lambert, of course the question remains as to what sensations he is capable of registering; if any. Any thirst may be alleviated with swabs; or small amounts of fluid, if it appears he suffers.

Morten Horn
Consultant in neurology
Member of the Medical ethics council in the Norwegian Medical Association
Member of the scientific panel for palliative care, European Academy of Neurology

Alex Schadenberg said...

Our difference is based on the purpose and result of withdrawal.
You refer to it as life-prolonging measures. Sorry, these are basic care measures.
I am simply recognizing that there is only one outcome to withdrawing fluids and that is death by dehydration. It is intentional, it is not a good death.

If you were dying or nearing death I would agree with you.

If you look at it in another way, if I were a person with a disability who requires assisted feeding to live, what you are calling life-prolonging measures, they would call breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Lambert is cognitively disabled. His disability may be profound, but he is not dying or nearing death. He will die by dehydration and that is tragic.

Janice said...

Steven Hawking was fed through a feeding tube due to his paralysis. If he was not fed using this method, he would have died. He had a disease that rendered him paralyzed, thus disabled.

Did doctors consider this inhumane to keep Hawking on a feeding tube?

Unknown said...

I greatly appreciate your investment and willingness to discuss these issues of great import, Alex. I'm convinced this is important to defend patients who are not able to defend themselves. Death by dehydration even with sedatives is a horrifying prospect for anyone. Thank you for arguing the issue so effectively.

Christine said...

I work as a customer service rep. I speak with customers from every walk of life. I speak with people who sometimes come in after trauma and just need to talk to someone. A customer came in fairly early one day and I asked him how his day was going so far. In a moment of vulnerability he confessed, “”Well my mother in law just died. We took her off food and fluids over a week ago! It was so rough. I would NEVER do that again. I would never even wish that kind of death on my worst enemy, It was just awful.” I didn’t pry as to what motivated their decision to withdraw her food and fluids (this was before MAiD). Clearly, however, what he had seen was not a peaceful, pain free death and he was very obviously traumatized by it.
Just something I remembered after reading “anonymous’s” comments about such a death being pain free.
Thank you Alex for all you do to fight for the vulnerable of our society.

Anonymous said...

as a retired health care professional I shudder to see these inhumane programs put forward by the elite simply to depopulate the chronically sick and dependant among us in an effort to save a few almighty dollars . I PRAY for VINCENT LAMBERT! -Myra Hamilton

Denis said...

I agree wholeheartedly with Alex on this one. However if this patient had expressed his wishes prior to his disability that he would not want to be artificially fed by tube then there may be a case for withdrawing tube feeding. I don't remember hearing that that was the case. Food and water are not medical treatment. They are basics of life. Also why is your name unknown????

Denis said...

I agree that the un-elected courts have more power than government and democracy. That is how Canada ended up in the mess we are in. The court struck down the law against euthanasia and FORCED parliament to come up with a law for euthanasia. This IS NOT DEMOCRACY!!! why did they not have a referendum or political discussion with public input and a Canada wide vote on such an important topic???

Janice said...

@Unknown Morten Horn: To allow a person to die from starvation/dehydration is simply inhumane, period. Would you allow a family pet to die from starvation/dehydration? Prisoners who were serial killers are executed and animals are euthanized by drugs, not starvation.

What did Vincent Lambert do to deserve this?

You stated " Any thirst may be alleviated with swabs; or small amounts of fluid, if it appears he suffers.". That method is used when a person is in the final stages of dying, not someone who is disabled. What you fail to remember is that Vincent Lambert is NOT dying, and I will repeat it again that he is disabled.

I worked with adults and children with disabilities and I can tell you that swabbing their mouth with water is not sufficient.

Your perspective on this is limited to near death situations and not cases that are being sustained by food and water. Adults and children with disabilities requiring feeding assistance are NOT dying.

It is unfortunate that your perspective is what is driving the medical field to condone this inhumane method of death.

Unfortunately, society is becoming (if not already) desensitized to this whole notion that starvation/dehydration is a humane method of killing a patient and it is based entirely on the advice of 'medical practitioners' who are themselves blind.

Vincent Lambert's case, as with Terri Schiavo, is not about the drug methods used for euthanizing or assisted suicide, it is about killing him; and killing him without his consent or any input from him. There is no other conceivable way of seeing or explaining his case.

Agi nurse said...

A stupid swab does not alleviate the horrible sensation of thirst, I know for a fact, my poor mother was very ill in hospital for 1 year. She was in and out of critical care, several times, and was on life support and dialysis. They asked me and my family many times if we wanted them to stop medical intervention and remove her from life support. We never hesitated when each time we firmly said “ You do what ever it takes to save her”. Thank God we did!! She is now home and enjoying her life with us.

As for the insane swan remark, my mother said swabs never helped. Feeling thirsty was the worst thing she experienced during her 1 year stay in hospital. So don’t ever say that removing food and water from someone can be done comfortably. You are most incorrect!!!

Agi nurse said...

If you don’t know what Vincent Lambert can Or can not feel, then you must do the humane thing, and continue to give him food and water. To do anything else is simply MURDER!

Janice said...

@Agi nurse: Excellent point when you said: "...then you must do the humane thing...".

The problem with this whole debate is that 'humane' has been redefined to suit the pro-death agenda and not what humane really means.

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