An Italian court has ruled against a request by a terminally ill man who wants to be taken off life support. Euthanasia is illegal in Italy. Sixty-year old Piergiorgio Welby who suffers from advanced muscular dystrophy has caught public attention in Italy after appealing to the media and the President to be granted the right to die.
Welby’s lawyers argue that doctors have no right to keep him alive or force him to take medication against his will and that doing so amounts to forceful life-sustaining treatment. The case has divided the ruling centre-left coalition in this predominantly Roman Catholic country and sparked a nationwide public debate. Pro-euthanasia activists have organised vigils in dozens of Italian cities, in London and in Brussels to highlight the case of Piergiogio Welby, who wants the respirator which has kept him alive since 1997 removed.