The dignity of this woman's family, who have watched over their daughter, in either a persistent or permanent vegetative state since a car accident seventeen years ago, is in stark contrast to the grandstanding of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. I am still dumbfounded by his comment that she should not be allowed to die because she was "in the condition to have babies." And then, of course, there is, as always in Italy, the Vatican. . . .
Here is the response from my good friend in Milan to the first Guardian article hyperlinked below. As you read, remember English is her third language, after Italian and French.
She died last night... Let's hope there is some peace now for her and her family.
Out of respect for his daughter (he wanted her to be remembered the way she looked when she was really alive), Beppino Englaro stubbornly refused to show photos of how devastated Eluana actually looked now, after 17 years of coma. Had he done so, the public would not have been so irrational about the woman's right to die. We all saw pictures of this gorgeous 20-year-old girl... This morning I read on the Corriere that she had become a devastated 40-kg body, with bed sores even on her face.
I'm horrified by the violence of the media, politicians and members of the general public who created this case.
Let's hope that there will at least be a positive consequence to all this horror: the legalization of Living Wills ("testamento biologico" in Italian) which is still far from being accepted as a possibility both by Theo-Cons (religious right) and Theo-Dems (religious left). Left, right or middle -- there seems to be no limit to the scandalous interference of the Vatican into Italian politics.
Berlusconi has now announced that Eluana Englaro was "killed" and blames Italy's president for permitting this to happen. The prime minister's political opportunism readily discounts her anaesthetist's belief that "Eluana died 17 years ago."
Final word(s) c/o Mary Warnock:
And the sanctity of life is seldom invoked except in cases when shortening a pitiful life is contemplated. Roman Catholics believe that the life of every embryo is sacred from the moment of its conception, but they do not believe that the principle should entail that just wars may not be fought, in which many human lives will be lost. If human life were really sacred it would be at least doubtful whether one might properly kill someone in fear that you would yourself be killed. Such exceptions to the sanctity principle have long been allowed by the church. It is not then held that since life was a gift from God, it is for God alone to take it away. And if that were an absolute principle, what would be the morality of prolonging a human life by medical intervention, when God had visited the human being with a heart attack or an infection that would once have been fatal?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/08/pope-assisted-suicide-eluana-englaro [Mary Warnock on issue]