UN Committee prevents disabled man from being dehydrated to death in France

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Vincent Lambert’s mother has been fighting for his life.

The United Nations committee on disability rights is intervening in the Vincent Lambert case in France, asking “France to suspend any decision to withdraw life support,” France24.com reports.

Lambert was cognitively disabled in a motorcycle accident injury in 2008. In 2014, his wife petitioned a French court to have all treatment and care ceased, including food and water.

His parents urged that their son be transferred to a rehabilitation center. The legal battle concerning withdrawing fluids and food from Lambert has continued.

According to France24.com, the French government responded to the UN disability rights committee by suspending any decision to withdraw fluids and food from Lambert. However, France’s Health Minister, Agnes Buzyn, told BFMTV on Sunday

“We are not legally bound by this committee, but of course we will take into account what the UN says, and we will respond,” she told BFMTV on Sunday.

“All the legal appeals have been exhausted and all judicial bodies, both national and European, confirm that the medical team in charge of his case has the right to halt (Lambert’s) care.”

Lawyers for Lambert’s parents denounced the minister’s remarks as “irresponsible.”

Vincent Lambert is a man with disabilities, who is not dying or nearing death. To intentionally kill a person by withdrawing fluids, when the person is not otherwise dying, is euthanasia by dehydration since the person is directly and intentionally dies of thirst.

Recently a UN disability rights envoy urged Canada to amend its euthanasia law to ensure protections for people with disabilities from euthanasia.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.