Thursday, December 18, 2008

Italy's welfare minister intervenes to stop the dehydration death of Eluana Englaro

A CNS article is reporting that on December 16, Maurizio Sacconi, Italy's welfare minister, temporarily blocked Eluana Englaro's physician and family from carrying out an Italian supreme court decision to dehydrate her to death.

The article stated that:
Officials of the Citta di Udine clinic, which had agreed to accept Englaro as a patient and had formed an all-volunteer team of employees to care for her, suspended the transfer saying they had to study Sacconi's decree and determine whether they were obliged to obey it or if they could follow the supreme court's ruling.

Sacconi said denying nutrition and hydration to a patient in a persistent vegetative state "can be interpreted as discrimination based on judgments about the quality of life of a person with serious disabilities and in a situation of total dependence."

Italian law and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities make it illegal to refuse to care for or provide medical assistance to a person based on his or her disability, Sacconi said.


To withdraw hydration and nutrition from a person who is not otherwise dying is the cause of death for that person. It is always wrong to intentionally kill a person, especially one who is vulnerable and needing total care.

To intentionally dehydrate Englaro to death means that society has decided that her life is not only not worth living, but that her disability should be treated by killing her.

Death by dehydration is not a peaceful, dignified or compassionate death.

For a person who is dying and nearing death, there comes a time when the body is unable to assimilate fluids and nutrition and it becomes necessary to withdraw that care based on the fact that it is not providing any benefit and to continue it would likely harm the dying person.

In the case of Englaro, she is not dying but is being dehydrated to death because of her cognitive disability. Even though she is not likely to recover, we owe the human person basic care which includes fluids, nourishment, warmth, and basic physical care.

To deny her these basic measures of care will result in the acceptance and promotion of a eugenic discrimination against people with disabilities and other vulnerable people because society will assume that these people would not want to live in this way.

Social pressure will create a situation in which family members will be made to feel that to continue caring for these people is actually socially unjust based on societal costs and personal needs.

Link to the article:
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0806311.htm

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