French court rules out euthanasia for quadriplegic

January 16, 2014

A French court Thursday ruled against ending the life of a 38-year-old quadriplegic who has been in a vegetative state for years and whose family have been divided about his fate.

Doctors treating Vincent Lambert, as well as his wife, wanted to cut off intravenous food and but his deeply religious Catholic parents and other opposed the decision and took the matter to court.

A 2005 law in France legalises passive euthanasia, where a person causes death by withholding or withdrawing treatment that is necessary to maintain life.

The doctors in the hospital in the northeastern city of Reims wanted to take the step on the basis of this law. Lambert has been in a since a road accident five years ago.

But a court in Chalons-en-Champagne near Reims "ordered the doctors to maintain food and water" intravenously, said Jean Paillot, a lawyer for Lambert's parents.

The hospital authorities can now appeal the decision before France's Constitutional Council.

The case comes amid growing debate in France over legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide after several tragic end-of-life stories.

Assisted suicide, which is legal in Switzerland, allows a doctor to provide a patient with all the necessary lethal substances to end their life, but lets them carry out the final act.

Euthanasia goes a step further, and allows themselves to administer the lethal doses of medicine. This practice, legal in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, is the most controversial.

French President Francois Hollande promised during his 2012 presidential campaign to look into legalising euthanasia and this week reiterated his position, but stressed that it would have to be monitored under "strict" guidelines.

Explore further: Netherlands euthanasia and assisted suicide rates in 2010 comparable to rates before legalization

Related Stories

French medical body for euthanasia in 'exceptional' cases

February 14, 2013

France's medical ethics council said Thursday that assisted suicide should be allowed in exceptional cases when suffering patients make "persistent and lucid requests" in a step forward to legalising euthanasia.

UK court rules against euthanasia (Update)

July 31, 2013

A British appeals court upheld a law against euthanasia in rejecting appeals from two severely disabled men who argued that doctors should be allowed to legally kill them.

French panel recommends legalising assisted suicide

December 16, 2013

A panel set up at the request of President Francois Hollande on Monday recommended legalising assisted suicide in France, where the debate on euthanasia has re-emerged after several end-of-life tragedies.

Recommended for you

Sustaining biomedical research: Med school deans speak out

May 27, 2015

Cuts in federal support and unreliable funding streams are creating a hostile work environment for scientists, jeopardizing the future of research efforts and ultimately clinical medicine, according to leaders of the nation's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.