April 18, 2024

Italy may hold a referendum on euthanasia

Activists hope to follow in the footsteps of Spain

Photo by Mauricio Artieda on Unsplash

Right-to die activists are hoping that Italy will follow Spain and legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia. A petition to reverse a ban on assisted suicide has collected more than 750,000 signatures, more than enough to force a referendum. Only 500,000 were needed.

It is believed that about 50 Italians already die in Swiss suicide clinics every year. Activists claim that 8,000-10,000 Italians will take advantage of the law if it succeeds.

Doctors can already stop nutrition and treatment if patients request it with a living will, under rules introduced in 2018, but activists argue that this is little-known and rarely used. The proposed referendum would enable doctors to kill a consenting person without fear of being hauled into court.

The euthanasia lobby is framing the decision as a battle between humanity and heartless Catholic fundamentalism.

Pope Francis said in 2019 that doctors faced with legislative changes around the world, “must reject the temptation, to use medicine to support a possible willingness of the patient to die, providing assistance for suicide or directly causing death by euthanasia.”

“A vitalistic conception of life is gradually being wedged into the sensitivity of the majority, a youthful and healthy conception based on which everything that does not correspond to a certain level of well-being and a certain conception of health is rejected” was the comment of the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the prospect of a referendum.

Marco Cappato , of the Luca Coscioni Association, a leading right-to-die group, responded:

“Monsignor Paglia does not seem to give any value to the fundamental right to freedom and individual responsibility … With the affirmation of the referendum, no one will be forced to choose euthanasia, and indeed it will be possible to prevent what is happening now: clandestine euthanasia, made up of loneliness and desperation and practiced in the most terrible conditions, also due to the responsibility of the criminalization desired by a law of 1930 and supported by the Vatican.”

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

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