Dying Italian stirs euthanasia debate

2011-08-04 22:20

Rome - A dying Jehovah's Witness in Italy has won the legal right not to receive treatment, sparking a heated debate on Thursday between supporters and opponents of euthanasia in this predominantly Catholic country.

"I don't want my life to be prolonged if doctors are reasonably convinced that my case is hopeless," Clarice Di Tullio, 48, had told the court in Treviso in northern Italy. Judges respected her wish in a ruling earlier this week.

She has multiple sclerosis - a disease affecting the brain and spinal cord.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right government, which is attempting to pass a bill in parliament that would outlaw these types of end-of-life decisions, reacted angrily to the Di Tullio ruling.

The judgment "aims to introduce assisted suicide which is not allowed under our laws," said Labour Minister Maurizio Sacconi, a militant Catholic.

"Only parliament can take such important decisions. I hope it never does."

But Massimo Cozza from the leftist CGIL Medici trade union said: "This judgment does not help assisted suicide but rather guarantees respect for the will expressed" by patients under the ethical code used by doctors.

That view was shared by Ignazio Marino, a senator from the main opposition Democratic Party who is himself a doctor. "The judge took a decision knowing the cause and taking into account also the religion of the person," he said.

Last month lawmakers approved a draft law that states that treatment to feed and give water to patients can never be suspended unless they "are no longer efficient or adapted to the living conditions of the patient".

The law, supported by the Vatican, still has to be approved by the Senate.

  • Sven - 2011-08-05 01:28

    Why is it that an old age pensioner in the UK is fined and electronically tagged because she did not relieve the suffering of her 16 year old dog, that had arthritis and cancer, but it OK to allow human suffering in terminally ill patients to be prolonged by the stupid laws of religion and politicians?

      Epicurius - 2011-08-05 07:27

      @ Sven - Got a link to that article? Sounds interesting.

      Kim - 2011-08-05 07:31

      I agree with you 100%. If a horse breaks it's leg it gets put down, human beings on the other hand are forced to suffer for as long as science can keep them alive - how is that humane and then we use religion to justify our evil deeds?

      daaivark - 2011-08-05 10:32

      Firstly Sven, they are different countries, and therefore have different laws, as is commonly the case. I would have thought that obvious. However, I do see this as a major breakthrough for the pro-euthenasia lobbies worldwide, and with sufficient precedent and pressure, one hopes that countries such as Britain will eventually come around.

  • Epicurius - 2011-08-05 07:26

    "The judge took a decision knowing the cause and taking into account also the religion of the person," ????? Would an atheist person with the same illness and the same wishes be treated differently?

      daaivark - 2011-08-05 10:33

      an interesting conundrum.

  • Tyler Wenzel - 2011-08-05 17:26

    I don't see how refusing treatment is equated with euthanasia. They're not putting the woman down, they are simply allowing nature to run it's course.

  • Jemima Miah - 2011-08-05 21:24

    Could everyone spare 5 minutes of their time to take part in a survey on euthanasia? It is for a project I am doing and I would love to know everyone's views and attitude towards it. If you would like any help or information about this please do not hesitate to email me at: Here is the link or the survey: Thank you!

  • KanaMay - 2011-08-05 23:47

    My grandpa wanted to die at home after months of hospital stay, but he was dragged back after another bout of flu. Yes, it enabled Dad to visit him again 1 day before the end, but Grandpa was in agony with his throat blocked with God knows what, he was practically in a coma. My father is adamant that he wants to jump around until the day he dies. He loves big houses in the country, and would be miserable if he had to stay in a cramped hospital room for long. Such choice of the place to die as well as the circumstances should be our freedom.

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