Sunday, November 28

Italy: first authorized case of assisted suicide

(Belga) A first case of assisted suicide was authorized in Italy where this practice was until now punishable by a sentence of 5 to 12 years in prison, welcomed Tuesday the Association Luca Coscioni.

Mario, an invented name, “finally obtained the opinion of the Ethics Committee which, following verifications of his conditions carried out by a team of medical specialists, (…) confirmed that he fulfilled the criteria for legal access to assisted suicide, “said this association, which campaigns for the legalization of assisted suicide in Italy, in a statement. Currently, Italian law punishes assisted suicide with a sentence ranging from 5 to 12 years in prison, but in 2019 the Constitutional Court introduced an exception for “patients kept alive by treatment […] and suffering from an irreversible pathology, a source of physical and psychological suffering which they consider intolerable, while being fully capable of making free and conscious decisions. “Mario, 43, is a heavy truck driver who became quadriplegic ago ten years after a traffic accident in which his spine was broken. He has repeatedly asked the regional health authorities in Marche (center), where he lives, for permission to access to assisted suicide which was refused to him until the intervention of the team of lawyers of the Luca Coscioni Association. “I feel lighter, I no longer have all the tension accumulated during these years” , reacted Mario, quoted by the association. The concrete modalities and the date of this assisted suicide, however, remain to be defined. The decision of the Constitutional Court of 2019 represented an earthquake in Italy, a country with a strong Catholic tradition where the weight of the Church is still very present. But the court left a legal vacuum declaring only illegal an article of the penal code punishing those who provide assistance to assisted suicide, while listing conditions for it to be legal. However, the legislator has not yet adopted a specific law incorporating this decision and the Luca Coscioni Association has thus launched a petition in favor of a referendum on the legalization of euthanasia in Italy, collecting more than 750,000 signatures. The referendum, which was to collect at least 500,000 signatures, aims to reverse the law banning assisted suicide. It could be held as early as 2022. (Belga)

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