Terri Schiavo is a Florida woman who was dehydrated to death in March 2005 following a court decision. Fifteen years earlier in February 1990, Terri had collapsed and suffered brain damage. Later in 1998, her husband petitioned a probate court to have her feeding tube removed. The case wound its way through the courts with Terri’s family battling for her life. Her parents and siblings very much wanted to care for her. Terri died on March 31, 2005, thirteen days after her feeding tube was removed. Her death was anything but peaceful and beautiful as her brother Bobby and sister Suzanne attested.
Now from France comes a similar case. From a news report, we learn that Vincent Lambert’s parents are equally distraught at the court decision approving the death of their son by dehydration/starvation. His mother Vivian said “it’s scandalous. They are condemning my son. We will remain by Vincent’s side and will continue to fight.”
The Terri Schiavo Hope and Life network commented on the decision of the European Court of Human rights permitting the dehydration and starvation of Vincent Lambert. A portion of their statement follows:
PHILADELPHIA, June 16, 2015 – The family of Terri Schiavo is reacting to a court ruling that allows Vincent Lambert, the man known as the “Terri Schiavo of France” to be starved and dehydrated to death. “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,” says Terri Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, who is executive director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network. “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.”
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.
“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.”
“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.”
The Philadelphia-based nonprofit has responded to requests from more than a thousand families, supporting them with advocacy, guidance and resources at no charge.
“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.”