• Frenchman at the heart of France's right-to-die debate dies after treatment pulled

    A quadriplegic man who has been in a vegetative state for more than a decade and became the symbol for the right-to-die debate in France has died, his family announced.

    Vincent Lambert, 42, died Thursday in a hospital in Reims nine days after doctors stopped providing artificial feeding and hydration, ending years of legal flip-flopping over whether to keep him alive.

    His nephew, Francois Lambert, expressed relief, saying that “it’s the rational that takes over.”

    “We’ve been ready for years,” the nephew, who has emerged as the spokesman for the side of the family, including Lambert’s wife, who felt their loved one should be allowed to die.

    This July 23, 2015, file photo shows Rachel Lambert, wife of Vincent Lambert, crying as she speaks to the media, at the Sebastopol hospital, in Reims, eastern France, where Vincent was on artificial life support.?

    This July 23, 2015, file photo shows Rachel Lambert, wife of Vincent Lambert, crying as she speaks to the media, at the Sebastopol hospital, in Reims, eastern France, where Vincent was on artificial life support.? (AP)

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    Lambert’s family – and the courts – were engaged in a bitter dispute over whether he should be allowed to die 11 years after a tragic motorcycle crash left him in the vegetative state.

    His medical team recommended in 2013 that care should stop, in consultation with his wife, who argued that her husband had made it clear before the crash that he would not want to be kept alive artificially, AFP news agency reported.

    His parents, traditionalist Catholics, fought relentlessly to keep their son alive, arguing that Vincent was disabled and wanted to put him in a facility that deals with disabilities.

    In this July 23, 2015 file photo, Viviane and Pierre Lambert, left, parents of Vincent Lambert, arrive at the Sebastopol hospital, in Reims, eastern France, where Vincent, was on artificial life support.

    In this July 23, 2015 file photo, Viviane and Pierre Lambert, left, parents of Vincent Lambert, arrive at the Sebastopol hospital, in Reims, eastern France, where Vincent, was on artificial life support. (AP)

    Doctors resumed and cut off feedings several times based on rulings in various courts, which examined the case at the behest of Lambert’s parents.

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    The case, which ended four days after France’s highest court quashed a Paris court decision to resume feeding Lambert so the United Nations could investigate, has provoked national soul-searching over how to deal with terminally ill patients. It also drew attention around Europe.

    Neurologist and advisor of Vincent Lamber's parent shows a picture of Vincent Lambert who had been is in a vegetative state since 2008, during an event on the sideline of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on July 1, 2019.

    Neurologist and advisor of Vincent Lamber's parent shows a picture of Vincent Lambert who had been is in a vegetative state since 2008, during an event on the sideline of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on July 1, 2019. (AFP/Getty)

    Euthanasia is illegal in France, however, the country’s 2016 law on terminally ill patients allows doctors to stop life-sustaining treatments, including artificial hydration and nutrition, and to keep the person sedated until death.

    On Thursday, the Vatican quickly reacted, saying it “learned with sorrow of the death of Vincent Lambert.”

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    People demonstrate in support of French quadriplegic Vincent Lambert, who has been in a deep vegetative state for more than a decade, in Paris, France, July 10, 2019.?

    People demonstrate in support of French quadriplegic Vincent Lambert, who has been in a deep vegetative state for more than a decade, in Paris, France, July 10, 2019.? (Reuters)

    A statement expressed “our closeness” to “all those who assisted him with love and devotion.”

    Coming down on the side of those who tried to keep Lambert alive, the statement quoted Pope Francis speaking in the past about the case and saying that “we have the duty to always protect (life)” and “no cede to throwaway culture.”

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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