Italian Prosecutors Appeal Court Decision for Euthanasia of Eluana Englaro

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 1, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Italian Prosecutors Appeal Court Decision for Euthanasia of Eluana Englaro

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 1
, 2008

Rome, Italy ( — Italian prosecutors have filed an appeal in the case of a father’s attempt to kill his disabled daughter via euthanasia by removing her feeding tube. State prosecutors filed papers on Thursday appealing the ruling a Milan court handed down earlier this month in the case of Eluana Englaro.

Englaro is the subject of the latest battle similar to the one Terri Schiavo’s family waged to prevent her former husband from denying her food and water.

She has been in what doctors term a vegetative state for 16 years following an automobile accident in 1992 and has received food and water through a feeding tube.

The state attorneys asked Italy’s top court to issue a temporary injunction preventing Beppino Englaro, Eluana’s father, from killing his daughter before the case can be heard.

Since the ruling issued on July 9, Beppino has been trying to find a hospice to remove the feeding tube but has been unable to find one that will take Eluana’s life.

Meanwhile, according to a Reuters report, Italy’s lower house of parliament approved a measure on Thursday censuring the judges at the Milan court. The Italian Senate is expected to approve a similar motion today.

The motion says it is the right of lawmakers to make laws related to pertinent bioethics issues and not for courts to determine the fate of disabled patients like Englaro.

Earlier this week, some of Italy’s leading neurologists said Englaro should not be killed and they question whether she is in a persistent vegetative state.

"She is not a person in coma, or a terminal patient, but a severely handicapped person in need of special basic care, as occurs in many other situations of serious injuries to parts of the brain that limit the capacity of communication and self-sustenance," they said, according to a Zenit report.

"A patient’s nutrition and hydration, even if assisted, cannot be confused with medical treatment; they have always constituted the fundamental elements of care, precisely because they are indispensable for every human being, whether healthy or sick," they went on to say.

"The tube through which nourishment is received does not alter this elementary truth; rather, it can be compared to a prosthesis or any other type of aid," they explained.

Eluana has been in a hospital in the northern Italian town of Lecco since the accident.

The Milan appeals court claimed Eluana’s comatose state is irreversible and also claimed that, prior to the accident, she made it clear should would rather die than live in an incapacitated state.

"I feel that I can now free the most splendid creature I have ever known," Beppino Englaro told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. "She simply wanted to be left to die, (she wanted) nature to take its course."

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.


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