Debate in Italy Over Englaro's Right-To-Die Euthanasia Ruling
The Italian government is intervening in the case of Eluana Englaro, who has been in a vegetative state for 17 years and kept alive through life support machines. Italian courts granted Englaro's father the right to remove her feeding tubes after doctors proved her coma was irreversible. Englaro, now 37, had previously expressed a desire to die over being kept alive artificially should she ever be in such a state.
Most state clinics refused to accept Englaro, who was injured in a car crash in 1992, but a private geriatric clinic in Udine said they would receive her and she was transported there on February 4. Upon her arrival the non-provision of food and water began, hence the emergency intervention by the Italian government.
In November, Italy's highest court ruled that she had expressed a preference for dying over being kept alive artificially, and that doctors could stop feeding her.
Urgent government intervention is needed because this morning they began the non-provision of food and water
Italian Prime Minister
On Tuesday she was transferred to a private geriatric clinic in the northern city of Udine, where doctors had agreed to disconnect her feeding tubes.
But Friday's decree states that feeding "can in no circumstances be refused".
Patients are permitted to refuse treatment in Italy, however they cannot provide doctors with advance directions should they become unconscious.
The prime minister is urgently appealing for the president to intervene, otherwise threatening to enact an emergency parliamentary session to overturn the law. The Catholic Church opposes the decree allowing Englaro to be taken off life-support, calling it euthanasia. The Vatican Health Minister, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, called the situation "abominable" and the practice as "murder."
The Italian public seems to have a split opinion on the matter.