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AFTER THE DEATH OF ELUANA, ITALY REMAINS DIVIDED ON EUTHANASIA

France 24 - February 25, 2009 After the death of Eluana Englaro, some Italians are publishing videos on the internet in which they request the right to die should they ever fall into an irreversible coma. But the country remains deeply divided on euthanasia. For several weeks now, Italians have been posting videos online in which they request the right to die should they ever fall into an irreversible coma. This has all been triggered by the case of Eluana Englaro, who, after spending 17 years in a coma being kept alive artificially, died a medically assisted death. This was despite the strong protests from the right-wing government and the Vatican, both accusing the doctors of homicide. Valeria Galanti, a student, told us: « Recording this video, in which I voiced my will, has not been easy on the emotional level. It wasn’t just talking about something that’s far away. You know: we often consider death as something tragic and negative… we always tend to consider it as something distant – almost like if it was our instinct of self-preservation. No…for the first time, I realized that it could also happen to me. That’s why I made this video. » Experts say that these videos have no legal value, especially as Italy does not have a clear legal framework regarding the right to die. A bill soon before parliament In early March, the bill on the biological, or “living”, will is going to be discussed once again here in parliament. The bill proposes a ban on any interruption of artificial feeding. The bill is supported by most members of parliament. If it is passed, it will forbid doctors from letting a medical patient die, even if this is against their wishes. Pier Ferdinando Casini, MP from the Union of the Christian Democrats and Centrists, told us: « The right to live, in our country, should not be questioned. There must be a clear ‘no’ to any form of euthanasia. Nevertheless, we don’t agree with the fact of keeping someone alive at all costs. » Deep social divide As always with major social issues, the Vatican is very vocal and defends the right to life above all else. The Church is often accused of intervening too much in Italy’s affairs. Would this be why passing laws on such issues is so difficult here? Laura Palazzani, Vice President, Bioethics National Committee, doesn’t seem to think so: “I don’t believe this is the case. Even the Church recently opened up to the idea of a law. Before, it used to be totally against the very concept of “biological or a living will”. Now there is an opening on the opportunity to declare in advance what kind of medical treatment one is ready to accept.” But for many non-believers, this type of legislation is considered dangerous. Emma Bonino, Senator from the Radical Party, says: “There was a time…one had to go to France or Holland to abort. Now it’s a “tourism of death” that could emerge. It’s this or having people chose death but in a clandestine way.” The debate on Eluana and the right to die has created a deep social divide here - along religious and moral lines, as well as political ones.





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