A judge in Italy has ruled that a woman who has been in a vegetative state for 16 years following a road traffic accident could be removed from life support.
Eluana Englaro has been receiving food and water since 1992 in a hospital in Lecco.
Her father Beppino Englaro has been seeking an end to the life support since 1999.
The Milan appeal court said it had been proven that Englaro’s coma was irreversible.
The euthanasia debate is complicated in Italy by the influence of the Vatican, which refused to allow a religious funeral for writer Piergiorgio Welby in 2006.
Welby, who suffered from muscular dystrophy, died in December 2006 after being taken off an artificial respirator.
His case highlighted the ambiguities in Italian law, which bans euthanasia but supports the patients’ right to refuse treatment.