Italy Father Who Wants to Remove Daughter’s Feeding Tube Gets New Trial

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 17, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Italy Father Who Wants to Remove Daughter’s Feeding Tube Gets New Trial Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 17,

Rome, Italy ( — An Italian court has granted a request by a disabled woman’s father for a new trial in his bid to remove her feeding tube and authorize her death by starvation and dehydration. Eluana Englaro has been a coma for 15 years after an automobile accident seriously injured her and her father wants to remove her feeding tube.

The nation’s highest appellate court — the Cassation Court — gave Beppino Englaro a new trial after, earlier this month, a Milan court denied his request to take his daughter’s life.

This isn’t the first time Englaro’s case had been in court.

In April 2005, the Italian Supreme Court confirmed a lower court ruling to keep her feeding tube in place.

Beppino Englaro believes that Eluana would have preferred to die. He says he wants to release his daughter from "the inhuman and degrading condition" in which she has been "forced to exist" for 15 years.

The lower court rejected the argument because there was no specific evidence on Englaro’s views of life and death.

In addition, the lower court’s opinion stated that to remove the tube required, "valuations of life and death that are rooted in concepts of an ethical or religious nature, which are extrajudicial."

The Italian case has drawn comparisons to that of Terri Schiavo, the disabled American woman whose ex-husband won permission from the court to take her life.

It also hearkens to Piergiorgio Welby, a euthanasia activist afflicted with muscular-dystrophy who had a doctor kill him in a euthanasia bid that is still under investigation.

Adriano Pessina, head of the bioethics center at Sacro Cuore Catholic University, said Wednesday’s decision "raises various serious doubts."