The quadriplegic Vincent Lambert, who became a symbol of the right-to-die debate in France when his family fought long and publicly over whether or not he should be kept alive, died on Thursday, July 11th, his family says.
Last week, the highest court in France overturned an earlier appeal court ruling to allow doctors to stop feeding Lambert, who had been in a persistent vegetative state since a motorcycle accident 11 years ago.
Lambert suffered irreversible brain damage but was not on a respirator. During the years following the accident, his relatives started to disagree on whether to keep him alive artificially.
His parents were fighting to keep him alive. They appealed to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, arguing Lambert should be treated as disabled, while his wife, along with six of Lambert’s siblings and a nephew, argued that the humane course was to let him die.
Eventually, the court agreed with the latter and doctors began taking him off life support after the ruling. The case surrounding the Lambert family divided not only the family itself but the whole country. It became a central part of the right-to-die debate in France, sparking demonstrations on the streets of Paris.
Euthanasia is illegal in France, but doctors are allowed to put terminally ill patients into deep sedation, the BBC reported. According to the news channel, Lambert’s nephew said he had died at 08.24 (06.24 GMT) on Thursday, nine days after his feed was removed.