What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

A case to watch in France

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.

Comments (6)

Significantly, one of Kariger's "experts" stated to the media that Vincent Lambert "no longer exists as a person[;] he has been erased."

Then why all the two-stepping with starvation and dehydration? Why not call for directly administering a lethal dose of something if he no longer exists? This isn't any different from red herrings in favor of abortion. Namely,if there is nothing wrong with abortion, why all this gibberish about reducing the number of them?

Why not call for directly administering a lethal dose of something if he no longer exists?

I'm sure Kariger and co. would love to do so, but that's apparently still illegal in France.

But here's another way to put the same point: Why not just bury his body, if he no longer exists and has been erased? I like to put that one to "personhood theorists" who use phrases like "essentially dead" to describe those who are obviously biologically alive but whom they consider valueless.

The people who say that the person is "essentially dead" would have to say that if he made a recovery, then he would be coming back from the dead. In fact, once in a while a person does come back from a vegetative state, and they say they weren't dead in the vegetative state, they perceived their surroundings.

We know what dead is, it's when the body can't support life and then starts to decompose because it no longer has a principle of unity and integration. A vegetative state ain't it. Even less is a minimally conscious state. I would like these people ask themselves: if I undergo surgery and an anesthesiologist puts me under, and somebody killed me because I was in a "minimally conscious state", would that be a bad thing?

I often use the anesthesia argument. Nobody wants to say that you cease to be a person, or become "essentially dead," temporarily during anesthesia. One rhetorical tactic is to declare the state in question to be permanent by definition and then to say that there is no point in talking about recovery because recovery has been defined to be impossible in virtue of the nature of the state. "Permanent coma" or what-not.

But that won't really do. If the man under anesthesia, whose brain functions are at that time chemically disabled, is still valuable, worthwhile, a human person, even though he doesn't have on-line consciousness, why is the living human being whose brain is more badly damaged (or as-yet-undeveloped) and who for *that* reason does not now have full on-line consciousness not accorded the same status? There is a strong whiff of arbitrariness about the whole thing they can't rid themselves of, however hard they try.

Is it possible that the hospital is anxious to harvest this man's organs?

I very much doubt it. If a person dies by lengthy dehydration, that is generally a contraindication for organ donation. In fact, prospective kidney donors are sometimes given extra, some contend excessive, amounts of hydration in their last hours, just one of the many odd ways in which being a prospective donor can result in one's being treated differently before death than one otherwise would be.

In Belgium, I believe it is, active euthanasia has been connected with organ donation, but that is only where the active euthanasia is carried out swiftly. The kind of drawn-out prospect the French hospital has in mind for Lambert would not usually be connected with donation.

No, it's a more direct worship of death than that. They just believe that some people are better off dead.

Post a comment

Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.