Italy’s government has issued an emergency decree to prevent Eluana Englaro, who has been in a coma for 17 years, from having her feeding tubes disconnected.
Last year her father won a court battle allowing doctors to let her die. But the case has turned into a political crisis for Prime Minister Berlusconi because Italy s President Napolitano refused to sign the decree ordering doctors to keep Ms Englaro alive. The Vatican also clashed with Napolitano on the issue saying Ms Englaro must live. Berlusconi responded by drafting a bill for parliament where he has a comfortable majority. BERLUSCONI said “From my personal point of view, having to answer to my conscience, I would have felt like deliberately failing to assist someone who is in danger of death”. Ms Englaro, 38, has been in a persistent vegetative state since a car crash in 1992. On Tuesday she was transferred to a private clinic in the northern city of Udine, where doctors had agreed to disconnect her feeding tubes. But yesterday s decree states that feeding “can in no circumstances be refused”. Many Catholic politicians have said not feeding Ms Englaro amounts to euthanasia which is illegal in Italy. That s when Berlusconi intervened.