Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Italian lower house passes euthanasia bill for people with disabilities.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A recent Euronews report stated that Italy's lower house recently approved a bill that will legalize a form of euthanasia. According to Euronews:
The proposed bill would make assisted suicide legal for patients who suffer from an irreversible illness with an "unfortunate prognosis" that causes absolutely intolerable and psychological suffering"

They must also have undergone a palliative treatment process and be maintained alive only with medical treatments.

The law will only allow these patients to end their life with medication under the approved assistance of medical personnel. They must also be of legal age, show capacity of understanding and be adequately informed.
The article states that the new bill is based on the ruling from Italy's Constitutional Court in 2019. The article stated:
The court said that assisted suicide would be allowed for terminally ill patients who were suffering from "unbearable" physical or psychological pain and were being kept alive by machines.
There is not a lot of information about the bill, but it seems to be worded in a manner that makes it seem to be for limited circumstances. I am concerned about the use of the terms irreversible illness, unfortunate prognosis and psychological suffering because these terms cannot be adequately defined.

When the Italian Constitutional Court opened the door to assisted suicide in September 2019 I was also concerned with the language of the decision. An article in the Guardian reported that the court appeared to limit the extent of the decision to people being kept alive on life-support but I thought that the decision was much wider. The Guardian article stated:
The court said that a patient’s condition must be “causing physical and psychological suffering that he or she considers intolerable”.

Since the article used the phrase “causing physical and psychological suffering that he or she considers intolerable” I recognize that the terminology cannot be defined and the decision can be interpreted to allow assisted suicide for a wider group of people.

On February 16, Italy's Constitutional Court rejected a referendum on euthanasia as reported by Euronews:

Italy's Constitutional Court has rejected a petition to hold a referendum on euthanasia and legally-assisted suicide.

The court said a proposed vote on the matter would not sufficiently protect "weak and vulnerable" people and would therefore violate the constitution.

A petition for a referendum on the right to die had collected more than 750,000 signatures last August, well above the threshold required to trigger a vote.

Sadly, in November 2021, an ethics committee in the central Italian region of Marche approved the first assisted suicide death, a man with quadriplegia known as Mario, based on the 2019 court decision.

EPC is also concerned that the Italian assisted suicide court decisions are about people with disabilities. The 2019 court decision discriminated against people with disabilities and the current bill will permit doctors to abandon people with disabilities to death.


David Reill said...

Good on italy!

Alex Schadenberg said...

I don't know why it would be good to kill disabled people.

David Reill said...

I don't know why it wouldn't be bad to forcibly impinge on the right of mentally competent, and autonomous adults who suffer from severe irremediable illnesses from ending their own suffering of their own will

Alex Schadenberg said...

Because it is not ending their own suffering of their own will. It is getting doctors to kill them. I am not suggesting that suicide is a good option, but suicide is an act of the individual, whereas assisted suicide and euthanasia are acts done and approved by the state.

David Reill said...

assisted suicide is with the assistance of a doctor. the patient himself consumes the drug.

"whereas assisted suicide and euthanasia are acts done and approved by the state."

I fail to see the issue so as long as its voluntary, well-considered, the individual having an illness or condition that qualifies, and the person(s) themselves are mentally competent

dougsned said...

Except the EPC also opposes efforts by individuals to take their own lives, and for organizations not affiliated with the state to provide the means or instructions to help adults do so of their own will.

Alex Schadenberg said...

EPC does not have a position on suicide, we do not promote suicide, but we are opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide. These are acts that require another person to be involved with killing. AS for instructions, giving a person with suicidal ideation instructions for death is not about freedom but abandonment. In the same way, I wouldn't give a loaded gun to a suicidal person.

dougsned said...

It's absolutely unfathomable to you and simply inconceivable that someone would end their lives of their own volition, or that someone would help someone to do so without malicious intent. Someone always had to be coerced in some way, gaslighted, or had the idea planted in their head. Nobody could have ever chosen to end their own lives of their own will and freedom. Nobody could have helped someone to do so for humanitarian reasons. Simply impossible.