A 37-year-old Italian woman died Monday, February 9, 2009 — after 17 years in a coma following an automobile accident — amid an uproar over her government’s last-ditch bid to keep her alive against the wishes of her family. This right-to-die case has been the source of heated political and religious debate that has been dividing Italy.
Eluana Englaro was a 21-year-old when a car accident in 1992 caused her severe brain damage and put her in a persistent vegetative state. Her father has been fighting since 1999 for the right to let her die.
Our firm’s experienced car accident lawyers know how much pain and suffering comes when you or loved one are involved in an accident on the road. This family probably went through many tough decisions about whether to continue medical treatment to keep their member alive or let them rest in peace.
On Friday, doctors at a clinic in the Northeastern Italian town of Udine complied with a Supreme Court ruling and began gradually suspending the auto accident comatose person’s food and water intake. In a stunning turn of events, the government of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attempted to introduce an emergency law that would prohibit the suspension of food and water to unconscious patients.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano usually remains above the political fray, as chief of state, but he played a decisive role in this debate when he refused to sign the proposed decree from Berlusconi — calling the measure unconstitutional.
After months of debate, public opinion on the matter has split down the middle in this devout, Catholic country. It is a situation that is eerily similar to the controversy over the fate of Terri Schiavo — a comatose Florida woman who was given the right to die in 2005 amid a similarly heated debate.
Liberals and the religious right were equally engaged in this battle of ideals.
“They have killed an innocent person who was incapable of defending herself: Life is a gift of God and they had no right to take away that of Eluana,” said Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, representing the Vatican.
Others do not believe that the church should be making this decision.
“Life does not belong to the government and does not belong to the church,” said a liberal group, in a statement released Monday. They also accused Berlusconi of wanting to subject citizens’ rights to “the totalitarian will of the state and the church.”
Our firm’s experienced car accident lawyers have seen wrongful deaths from car accidents for nearly two decades. We are neither for or against the right-to-die. It is a slippery slope when we are allowed to let other human beings die, when our culture’s highest value is life.
If you were injured and believe that you deserve compensation, then call our bilingual law offices right away at 1-800-655-6585 or click here for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney and find out how we can help you. We look forward to providing good advice for your case. There is no fee if no recovery.