[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Friday upheld [judgment; press release, PDF] a French court’s decision allowing Vincent Lambert the right to die, stating it did not violate article 2 of European Convention on Human Rights. Lambert was in a car accident seven years ago that caused him to become quadriplegic, and he has been in a coma since. The case was taken to the human rights court last year after a French court ruled in favor of ending Lambert’s life support. Doctors said that Lambert showed signs of resisting his treatment, and his wife stated that he would never have wanted “to live this way.” Lambert’s parents, devout Roman Catholics, disagreed with the decision by the French court last year and have stated they will continue to fight decision to end their son’s life.
The right to die [JURIST news archive] has been a contentious issue in the US and around the world. In April a South African judge ruled [JURIST report] that a terminally ill man has a right to assisted suicide with no legal or professional consequences for the participating doctor. In February the Supreme Court of Canada struck down [JURIST report] the country’s ban on medically assisted suicide. Also that month a group of patients and doctors filed a lawsuit in a New York court requesting a declaration [JURIST report] that physician-assisted suicide is not illegal under New York state law. In 2006 the US Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act [JURIST report], making Oregon the only US state that allowed assisted suicide at that time. Vermont, Washington, New Mexico and Montana now also allow assisted suicide. Possibly the most contentious right to die case ended in 2005, when Terri Schiavo [JURIST op-ed] passed away following a heated legal battle between family members on whether to artificially maintain her life in a vegetative state.