(CNN)Hours after they began the process of allowing him to die, French doctors were ordered to restore the life support of a man in a vegetative state whose controversial case has divided his family and the public.
Vincent Lambert put back on life support as French right-to-die debate takes eleventh-hour turn
Vincent Lambert, 42, sustained severe brain damage in a car accident in 2008 and has been on life support at Sebastopol Hospital in Reims, northeast France, where medical experts have determined that his situation is irreversible.
But for more than five years, legal battles have raged between his family members over whether he should be kept alive, igniting a watershed debate in the country and drawing in international bodies, the French President and even the Pope. On Monday, that fight appeared to have finally reached its end, with a judicial ruling that allowed doctors to take Lambert off life support.
That decision, in line with the wishes of his wife and siblings, followed a similar conclusion from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It prompted doctors to begin the process of "passive" euthanasia, which is legal in France.
But a last-ditch effort from Lambert's devout Catholic parents, who have been campaigning to keep him alive, halted the move hours later. An appeals court ruled in their favor, concluding that support cannot be withdrawn until an ongoing report by the UN's Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is completed.
"They were starting to eliminate Vincent," his mother, Viviane, told AFP after the ruling. "This is a very big victory. They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink. For once I am proud of the courts."
Lambert's nephew, by contrast, said that restoring his treatment would be "pure sadism by the medical-judicial system."
The deep divisions within Lambert's family are reflected throughout French society, and Monday's about-turn was just the latest twist in a case that has prompted people on both sides to pour onto the streets.
French President Emmanuel Macron rejected calls from the parents to intervene in a long Facebook post on Monday, before the appeals verdict was announced. "Like all of you, I am deeply moved by the situation of Vincent Lambert," he wrote.
"It is not up to me to suspend