The debate over euthanasia in Italy has become more vocal as a woman who has been in a coma for 17 years was taken to a hospital where her feeding tube can be removed.
Eluana Englaro has come to symbolise Italy’s right-to-die movement. The 37 year old was moved to La Quiete clinic at Udine in the north east of the country, a move her father Beppino described as the “first step towards the liberation” of his daughter. One of the doctors on the team that has taken on her case says Eluana will not suffer because she is already dead. That is not a view shared by everyone. A group of demonstrators tried to prevent the ambulance leaving the clinic near Milan where she has been since a car crash left her in the coma in 1992. They shouted “Eluana is living – don’t kill her.” The Pope said her death would amount to unacceptable euthanasia. Italy’s health minister has warned of “unimaginable consequences” to hospitals prepared to withdraw feeding despite a ruling to go ahead won by the family at the highest level. Anna Finocchiaro from Italy’s Democratic Party said: “The government shouldn’t fall out with the judiciary because responsibility also falls on the politicians for not thinking about this more clearly before.” Rocco Buttiglione from the Union of the Centre said: “The Prime Minister must convene the council of ministers straightaway to pass a law protecting disabled people’s right to life.” The doctors now looking after Eluana are reported to have formed an official association to defend themselves better in the event of legal action after her death.