Thursday, February 12, 2009

Italy: Euthanasia bill may spark political crisis in Italy

The Italian parliament will consider the bill clarifying the issues of euthanasia. The law-makers of the country vowed to quickly pass the law following the death of a woman, who used her right to die after spending 17 years in a coma.

Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi seeks to ban euthanasia, but President Giorgio Napolitano vigorously opposes him. The case may end with a political crisis taking into consideration the fact that Italy is a very religious country.

Eluana Englaro, 38, died four days after her forced feeding was stopped and three months after the Supreme Court allowed to euthanize her. Englaro was not given a lethal injection, but died when the treatment was stopped.

The court brought down the verdict on the base of the medical conclusion which particularly said that it would be impossible to take the woman out of the vegetative state. The court ruling triggered a vivid political dispute immediately.

Berlusconi’s government approved the bill to prohibit the suspension of the coercive nourishment of comatose patients. The prime minister said that he was not going to turn a blind eye on murder.

However, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano refused to sign the bill having claimed that it contradicted to the constitution of the country. The issue is to be solved February 11, when the lower house of the parliament of Italy gives it a consideration. Most likely, the bill to prohibit euthanasia will be approved for the lower house mostly supports Berlusconi.

Italy is known for its strong religious traditions. For example, the Italians received the right for divorce only in 1971. Only The Vatican was empowered to annul marriage before. Even Benito Mussolini, the all-mighty dictator, had to signed special agreements in 1929 to acknowledge Catholicism the only state religion of Italy.

The Catholic Church still plays a very serious role in the Italian community. The Church does not support any kind of euthanasia. A woman will be entitled to have an abortion only after she received an adequate decision from her partner. Gay marriage is strictly forbidden in Italy. Divorce is a rather complicated process in Italy. If one of the spouses wants a divorce, the process may take up to seven years. There were incidents when the process continued for 14 years.

The story of Eluana Englaro has divided the Catholic nation into two groups. About 47 percent of the polled Italians said that they were against euthanasia, whereas the same amount of respondents said that they supported the idea.

Modern-day Italy stands out from many other countries of Western Europe, where abortions and homosexual weddings were legalized long ago. The Italian administration has to decide whether it should follow the European standards or keep its own national traditions.

Vadim Trukhachev - Pravda
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
Putting principles before profits