The Point

The Point: Euthanasia by Any Other Name


John Stonestreet

Euthanasia is illegal in France. But in name only. Over the weekend a French court denied an appeal by the family of Vincent Lambert to prevent doctors from withholding nutrition and hydration to the 42-year-old.

A quadriplegic since a 2008 motorcycle accident, Lambert can breathe on his own, swallow and digest food, but some doctors say he’s in a “vegetative state.” Other doctors disagree, saying instead that he has “minimum consciousness.”

His mother puts it this way: “Vincent is not a vegetable . . . I’ve never seen a vegetable turn its head when called.”

Nonetheless, and despite pleas from the Catholic Church and groups that pledged to care for Lambert, doctors may now stop hydration. That means Lambert will die of thirst.

It’s a horrible precedent for France. As the European Center for Justice noted, should Lambert be euthanized, some 1,700 French citizens “in the same state of health” could face the same fate.


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