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France’s top court rules quadriplegic has right to die
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France’s top court rules quadriplegic has right to die

After years of back and forth, France’s Court of Cassation ruled on Friday that artificial life support for Vincent Lambert, a person who has been in a vegetative state since a road accident in 2008, can be terminated.

The court’s ruling reverses a previous decision by a Paris Court of Appeal last month, which forced his continued feeding and hydration despite his doctors’ advice and the will of Lambert’s wife and siblings.

The Paris court’s decision last month was made in response to an appeal by Lambert’s parents to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In the appeal, they argued that Lambert is a disabled individual and should be kept on artificial life support. The UN Committee expressed an interest in investigating the situation, but the French government is not bound by any legal obligations to allow this investigation to proceed.

With the top court’s new ruling, no further appeals are possible in France, and passive euthanasia via the withholding of supportive assistance can be used to allow Lambert to die. This is consistent with a 2016 law that allows terminally ill patients to be placed in continuous deep sedation until death.