France: the battle over Vincent Lambert
On Monday France's top court ruled that treatment must be resumed for Vincent Lambert, who has been in a vegetative state since 2008. Doctors had begun switching off life support in accordance with another court ruling, but his parents have been fighting to have him kept alive. Commentators are critical of this impassioned battle over life and death.
Everybody just wants to be right
The battle over Vincent Lambert has become more like a religious war, Gazeta Wyborcza observes:
“One might get the impression that the whole affair revolves around dispassionate confrontations between lawyers, who hurl legal paragraphs at each other. But appearances are deceptive: the row over Vincent Lambert is tied to big emotions that reach far beyond the circles of a very divided family. Religion divides this family, and it also divides public opinion. Vincent Lambert's parents are very religious, they are often seen in the company of monks, and some call them Catholic fundamentalists. The quarrels are so heated that they're more like a battle than an exchange of arguments. To a large extent this is all about who will triumph over whom now.”
The debate about Vincent Lambert, which has dragged on since 2010, has been blown out of proportion, complains ethicist and philosopher Damien Le Guay in Le Figaro:
“The 'Lambert affair' is a catastrophe because of its scope, its media impact, and the repercussions it could have. Because of the many people - all honourable - who are discussing a case they don't know the details of and a file they are unfamiliar with while at the same time defending their views with unbending vehemence. ... Let's try to put things into focus in order to avoid doing further harm to palliative care in France, blocking the Leonetti Law, or unintentionally opening the door to the euthanasia solutions that are practiced, with successive regressions, in Belgium for example.”