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Italian ‘mercy killing’ recalls Schiavo case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Eluana Englaro, an Italian woman who had been at the center of an international debate between pro-life and right-to-die advocates, died Feb. 9, three days after her family gave doctors instructions to stop giving her food and water. Englaro, 38, had lived in a vegetative state since a 1992 automobile accident.

While patients in Italy have a right to refuse medical treatment, there is no law providing for advance directives on their treatment if they became incapacitated, the Associated Press reported. Premier Silvio Berlusconi had put an emergency bill before lawmakers that would have prohibited withdrawal of medically supplied food and water from patients dependent on them to sustain life.

Italy’s top court ruled in November that nutrition could be withdrawn from Englaro, but her father, Beppino Englaro, who had been attempting to have food and water withheld so that she might die, had difficulty finding a clinic that would grant his request.

Englaro’s case recalled the 2005 case of Terri Schiavo, an American woman who died in the midst of a similar debate. Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, released a statement that said: “Sadly, Eluana’s death again reminds us of the pope’s words. Withholding her food and water — her most basic care — so that she would die, is really about us and how we are going to care for those who need our love and compassion to live.”

An autopsy indicated Englaro died of “cardiocirculatory arrest due to dehydration,” according to Italy’s AGI news service.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.

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