This sad story continues to tug at heart strings across the globe nearly a month after the tragic death of Eluana Englaro. In case you have been living in a grotto since then, She is the 38-year-old Italian woman who 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 and the nation’s President but opposed by its Prime Minister.
Now comes word that investigators are looking into possible murder charges against 14 people they say “assisted” in her “murder” including her own father, Beppino Englaro
That poor man, first he fights with all his might to win the right to disconnect her feeding and hydration tubes………….then he watches his daughter’s final days tragically played out in the global media, pitting pundits and fanatics on both sides of the right to life issue against each other………….he loses his once vivacious daughter…………and now must be branded a killer, if not with formal charges (although still a possibility) then by critics who believe they have the right to decide the life of strangers they have never met.
Perhaps an Italian attorney (un avvocato) reading this blog can explain to me how Italy’s high court can tell the man it’s okay to cease artificial nutrition and hydration for his comatose daughter, yet prosecutors think they now have an open door to charge him with murder because some fanatical pro-life organization has filed a complaint. I don’t understand it. That would be like the US Supreme Court upholding Roe v. Wade but some fanatical local prosecutor charging a woman with murder following an abortion.
OK, now don’t jump down my throat for the bad analogy but the absurdity is just as apparent – at least by the standards of the American judicial system. And by this group, known as the Truth and Life Committee, labeling itself as “pro-life,” does that mean Beppino Englaro was anti-life, that he favored killing the very life he brought into this world?
While euthanasia is illegal in Italy, a patient may still refuse medical care. However, there is some question as to whether artificial nutrition and hydration can be deemed medical care. Yet, think about that for a moment. It is “ARTIFICIAL NUTRITION and HYDRATION.” There is nothing natural or god-like about it. It is administered in a medical facility by medical personnel. How is that not medical care? It is not “medical” in Italy because the Vatican says it’s not. I am an Italian-American Catholic; I attended Catholic schools for 13 years; and I have five college degrees. Am I missing something here?
If there is any bright light in the tragedy of Eluana it is that Italy is finally considering a statute to provide for “living wills.” But here’s the Italian twist on it – when Parliament debates the issue this month, its proposal actually bans the cessation of artificial nutrition and hydration despite a patient’s stated wishes. Well, then, may I ask, what is the purpose of a “living will?”
I cannot imagine what Beppino is going through. He gave her life. He had to decide to end her life. And now his life has become a living nightmare. That is evidenced to me by the number of hits that my first post on this topic has generated in the three weeks since Eluana’s death. We can only pray that Beppino knows how many people are on his side.