After a European court issued a ruling saying a disabled patient can be starved to death against his will, the brother of Terri Schiavo says the parallels in the case are eerily similar to what happened to his sister.
Vincent Lambert, a tetraplegic patient who has been in a state of minimal consciousness in hospital for six years following a car accident, is current receiving food and water via a feeding tube. The decision to cut his intravenous food and water supply has divided his family. Lambert’s doctors and wife wanted to starve him to death while his parents, who are vehemently opposed to ending his life, took his case to court.
In January 2014 a court in France ruled against starving Lambert to death. But, in June, the European Court of Human Rights issued its decision and, by a vote of 12-5, the Grand Chamber held that a State may take Lambert’s life against his will.
As Terri’s family did when courts determined her estranged husband could starve her to death, Lamberts parents plan to appeal the decision.
In comments to LifeNews.com, Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo’s brother, says the case reminds him of how poorly the court system treated his sister.
“With so many questions in this case, why would you err on the side of death? As in my sister’s situation, we don’t know what Vincent’s wishes are,” he says. “Vincent’s parents are willing to care for him and have the right to do so. We strongly support their efforts and oppose the court’s ruling.”
“This case parallels my sister Terri’s case in so many ways,” says Schindler. “Vincent’s family is fighting for his life, wanting to continue therapy. Since Terri’s death, there have been dramatic breakthroughs in treatment and promise of new technologies on the horizon. There are documented cases in which brain-injured patients become capable of moderate levels of consciousness and actually regain some level of functionality. There are also cases on record where such patients regain full functionality and today live active, independent lives.”
On this tenth anniversary year of Terri Schiavo’s death, the case has resurfaced leading up to the 2016 presidential campaign and Jeb Bush’s candidacy.
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“I always felt Governor Bush was sincere,” says Schindler. “He never backpedaled and he worked hard to help Terri. When Congress passed Terri’s Law, it was one of the most bipartisan laws enacted at the time, passing unanimously in the Senate with no objections. In the House, the bill passed 203-58.”
Schindler tells LifeNews that a growing number of laws put life and death treatment decisions in the hands of hospital boards, ethics committees and healthcare professionals.
“Our hope is that a nominee for president would support efforts to protect people in medically vulnerable situations,” Schindler adds. “Protecting those who cannot advocate for themselves is the mission behind the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, and we are raising awareness around this issue and advocating for change.”
Schindler says Lambert’s case shows how family members of patients like him are willing to step up and provide care, even when other family members aren’t interested.
“Many family members are willing to take on the responsibility of care and the long, hard work of rehabbing their loved ones to higher levels of consciousness. All they ask is for the right to do so,” says Schindler.
Lambert experienced a profound brain injury seven years ago after a motorcycle accident. His wife and some siblings agree with a doctor’s recommendation that his life should end. But Lambert’s parents and other siblings say he is showing progress and needs better care. On June 5, a court ruled that the decision to stop intravenously feeding Lambert did not violate European laws.