This morning, while America slept, a comatose woman passed away in Italy. She will never make headlines here but in a country where God and country take on almost fanatical debate, at times, her death has sparked arguments on the floor of parliament and pitted the country’s Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, against its President, Giorgio Napolitano.
38-year-old Eluana Englaro had been in a coma for 19 years since a car accident left her living on machines. Her doctors said she would not survive without them. Her family’s decision to ask doctors to stop feeding her was supported by Italy’s highest court but opposed by Berlusconi. The Prime Minister went so far as to issue an emergency decree ordering doctors to resume feeding her by tubes; however, Napolitano refused to sign the decree as unconstitutional.
Englaro had been kept alive by artificial means for most of her life; technically, she had been dead longer than she had been alive. What an unfathomable agony for a family to watch their once beautiful and vivacious teenager whittle away and remain the focus of an ugly debate between lawmakers and the Vatican in this fervently devout Catholic country. Where is the dignity in her right to die?
No one who has not walked in the shoes of the Englaro family has the right to legislate what should be done with their little girl. The plug should be pulled on political……..and religious…….fanaticism that has nothing to do with the love of God and families should not have to be labeled as “murderers” for wanting to peacefully end a life they cherished until God took it from them 19 years ago, for the love of God!
Lawmakers are not God and do not have the right to decide life and death. Machines are not God and should not be used to artificially maintain a life that cannot exist on its own, to do so elevates both men and machines to the level of God and that in itself is a sin and a crime!