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Vincent Lambert, Dignity in Dying and the European Court: A Critical Evaluation and the Global Reflections

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image of European Journal of Health Law

In this article I analyse the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights in the Case of Lambert and Others v. France, delivered on 5 June 2015, affirming the Conseil d’État’s decision holding that the withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration from Vincent Lambert, a French national lying in tetraplegia and persistent vegetative state, was consistent with French domestic law and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In order to make a comparative evaluation I give an account of judicial decisions across the world and find that the European Court’s decision is an affirmative pronouncement, in the prevailing milieu of judicial heterogeneity, as it recognizes a person’s right to die with dignity in the face of conflicting claims and arguments, by giving supremacy to a person’s autonomy and right of self-determination over the deep-rooted religious beliefs and undue paternalistic postures. I conclude that right to die with dignity is a profound area where judge-made law is not the answer. The situation calls for greater consensus and uniformity by evolving suitable legislative strategies.

Affiliations: 1: Supreme Court of India


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