If you follow end-of-life issues and were horrified by the death of Terri Schiavo, here is a name to note: Vincent Lambert.
Lifesite News calls him "France's Terri Schiavo," and there is something to be said for the parallel. Lambert was in a car accident five years ago and is in what is known as a "minimally conscious state." This is a more responsive state than Terri was alleged to be in (though of course that should not matter to one's right to life). Even the doctors seeking Lambert's death acknowledge that he has sensory experiences and is responsive to "pain or well-being." He also appears to react to the presence of his loved ones, and I gather that this is acknowledged by those seeking his death. He is not able to communicate. He is not dying in any way but is tetraplegic.
Dr. Eric Kariger, representing the hospital, and Lambert's wife and nephew all want him starved and dehydrated to death. The argument is that that is what he "would have wanted." Vincent's parents oppose his being killed by starvation and dehydration.
In this case, there is a rather surprising hero, or I should say, heroine: An unnamed female public rapporteur, representing the State, argued before the court that Vincent is a vulnerable person who deserves protection, not death. She also pointed out the Achilles heel of all arguments from "what the patient would have wanted" when the patient is still alive and cannot communicate--We have no idea what the patient wants right now. She also pointed out that to remove Vincent's food and water would be to judge the quality of his life, which the court should not be doing.
Both the public rapporteur and the lawyer representing Vincent's parents pointed out that, under the letter of France's law, food and water can be withheld only if the patient is dying, which does not apply to Vincent.
Nine judges heard the case and decided that statements by Vincent Lambert before his accident are irrelevant and that he is not being harmed by his food and fluid. They ordered his food and water continued. His parents, naturally enough, want him transferred to a different facility from the facility that is seeking his death. It is likely that his wife and Dr. Kariger will continue to seek to take his life through the courts via an appeal.
Significantly, one of Kariger's "experts" stated to the media that Vincent Lambert "no longer exists as a person[;] he has been erased." That, presumably, is supposed to be some kind of technical expert opinion. If it doesn't send a chill down your spine, nothing will.
I was just re-reading this old thread recently and noting that even some so-called Christians are not immune to this sort of dehumanizing rhetoric. In that post I confronted a Christian blogger who says that people in a coma are "essentially dead" even though the "organism" "still grows toenails and hair."
We should pray for Vincent Lambert, for his parents, and for any appeals judges if and when the case is appealed.