Italy Parliament Debates Measure to Save Eluana Englaro, Inspectors Visit Clinic

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 9, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Italy Parliament Debates Measure to Save Eluana Englaro, Inspectors Visit Clinic

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 9
, 2009

Rome, Italy ( — With the president of Italy rejecting an emergency measure to save the life of Eluana Englaro, the disabled woman whose father won a court order to kill her, the Italian Parliament is now debating whether to override the decision. Meanwhile, government inspectors are probing the clinic that is starving her to death.

Members of the Italian Senate debated the measure on Monday and it is expected to be approved quickly.

Englaro was severely disabled 17 years ago from an automobile accident and her father wants to remove her feeding tube in the same way Terri Schiavo’s was removed. Doing so would subject the woman to a painful starvation and dehydration death.

Officials at the clinic that is supposed to be caring for Eluana started the process of starving her to death on Friday and gradually reduced the amount of food and water she received over the weekend. Today, Englaro reportedly is getting no nutrition and the process could make it so she may never recover if not reversed quickly.

That’s why members of parliament are rushing to approve the emergency order to reconnect her feeding tube.

The Senate is expected to approve the bill on Tuesday after amendments are considered today and then the lower house will debate and vote on the bill.

The lower house isn’t expected to vote on the measure until Wednesday and, by that time, the deprivation of food and water may have done enough damage to Englaro that she would be unable to recover.

There is some discussion about whether the law would be able to be applied to Englaro or only to future cases like hers, but AP indicates Health Minister Maurizio Sacconi said it would be revised to make sure Englaro is protected.

The measure is needed because Premier Silvio Berlusconi and members of the cabinet signed off on it but President Giorgio Napolitano vetoed it saying it went against the court ruling.

Meanwhile, inspectors visited the clinic on Monday to check on whether it meets the standards set forth in the order by the Italian appeals court in its ruling allowing Englaro’s death.

Sacconi said over the weekend that an initial probe had reported "irregularities" and that the clinic did not qualify because it is a medical center and not a hospice. If so, Englaro would have her food and water restored while she is taken to a clinic that would be allowed to kill her.

Regional authorities sent their own inspectors on Monday to see if Sacconi is right, but the clinic’s deputy director, Luciano Cattivello, told reporters it fulfilled all legal requirements.

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