Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Towards a "Third Intifada"?

Read more

FOCUS

What solutions for California's overcrowded prisons?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin: Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin: Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions?

Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • Israel announces four-hour truce after deadly strike on UN school

    Read more

  • US rebounds to 4% growth in second quarter

    Read more

  • Fourth female suicide bomber targets Nigerian city

    Read more

  • Suspect in Jewish Museum attack charged with 'terrorist' murder

    Read more

  • Women should not laugh in public, Turkey's deputy PM says

    Read more

  • Video: Coping with rocket attacks in Israel’s Sderot

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • France evacuates nationals, closes embassy in Libya

    Read more

  • Dozens killed in stampede at Guinea rap concert

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fire rages on

    Read more

  • In pictures: ن - a sign of support for Iraq’s persecuted Christians

    Read more

Europe

Death of woman in right-to-die debate sparks controversy

Video by Eve JACKSON

Latest update : 2009-02-11

The dramatic death of Eluana Englaro, the 38-year-old comatose woman in the centre of a fierce right-to-die debate in Italy, sparked emotional responses from the Vatican, Italian senators and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

REUTERS- Eluana Englaro, the comatose woman at the centre of a right-to-die case in Italy, died on Monday despite an attempt by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to order doctors to keep her alive through a feeding tube.

The 38-year-old Englaro had been in a coma since a 1992 car crash. Nutrition was stopped four days ago at the request of the family.

The case divided mainly Catholic Italy, with daily demonstrations and sit-ins by those who favoured letting her die and those who said it was tantamount to murder.

It also led to a constitutional crisis pitting Berlusconi against the head of state and provoked a debate about whether the Vatican was unduly interfering.

Berlusconi said in a statement he was "deeply pained" to hear of Englaro's death and was "very sad that the government's attempt to save a life were rendered impossible".

A moment of silence was observed in the Senate, which was debating a law that would have forced the clinic in northern Italy where she was hospitalised to resume feeding her through a tube.

The silence quickly turned to shouting and finger pointing as centre-left and centre-right politicians accused each other of trying to make capital from the case that has riveted Italy for months and raised the ire of the Vatican.

"She didn't die. She was killed," Gaetano Quagliarello, a centre-right senator from Berlusconi's party shouted in the senate as other lawmakers screamed "murderers, murderers" towards the centre-left benches.

Englaro was called "Italy's Terri Schiavo," the American woman in a vegetative state who was allowed to die in 2005 after a long legal fight.

"May the Lord forgive those who brought her to this point," said Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the Vatican's health minister, who backed Berlusconi's attempts to force the clinic to resume feeding.

 He told Ansa news agency that he would consider it "a crime if any human intervention was decisive in her death".

Catholic activists who were opposed to stopping nutrition said magistrates should order the woman's body sequestered pending an autopsy and a full judicial investigation.


"Something very strange has happened," said Gianluigi Gigli, head of the "For Eluana" anti-euthanasia group.

Doctors had stopped the feeding only last Friday and many had expected her to live several weeks longer.


Emergency decree



The woman's father battled his way through Italy's courts for 10 years to have her feeding tube disconnected, saying it was her wish not to be kept alive artificially. "I just want to be alone," he said after his daughter died.

Berlusconi issued an emergency decree on Friday ordering doctors to resume feeding the woman but it was rejected as unconstitutional by President Giorgio Napolitano.

"If she was killed she was killed by our hypocrisy and our slowness," said Pier Ferdinando Casini, a Catholic MP who opposed the stopping of feeding but said politicians should have passed a comprehensive law on end-of-life issues long ago.

For the third day in succession, Pope Benedict indirectly referred to the case, telling the new Brazilian ambassador to the Vatican that "the sanctity of life must be safeguarded from conception to its natural end".
 

Date created : 2009-02-10

COMMENT(S)