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Debate on euthanasia in Italy

These few lines are on behalf of Mr. Marco Cappato (Member of the European Parliament) and the Luca Coscioni Association to bring to your attention the debate about euthanasia which is taking place in Italy in these hours.

On the 21st of September the co-President of the Luca Coscioni Association, Piergiorgio Welby, sent an open letter to the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. Mr. Welby, who suffers from progressive muscular dystrophy, specified that he is not asking for a “death with dignity. This is not the case. And I’m not only speaking about my own. Death cannot be dignified. Dignified is what life should be.” Euthanasia, he insisted, “is not a death with dignity, but a timely death. There is no clash between those in favour of life and those against it: all sick people want to get better, not die.” Mr. Welby then recalled the words of the pope on the inviolability of human life, from its conception to its natural end. And he asked “But what exactly is natural about an intensive care unit? What is natural about a hole in your stomach and a pump filling you with fats and proteins? What is natural about a body kept functioning with the aid of artificial respiration. When a terminally ill person decides to give up memories, friendships and life, and asks to be able to put an end to a cruelly biological survival, I believe that his will must be respected with the pietas that is the strength and coherence of non-religious thought.” Welby concluded his long and dramatic appeal by addressing the Head of Stae directly: “My dream, also in the role of the co-president of the association named after Luca, my will, my request, which I want to proclaim in any and all contexts, starting from political and judicial ones, is today as clear in my mind as ever: to be able to make use of euthanasia. I would like Italian citizens to be able to have the same opportunity as Swiss, Belgian and Dutch ones.”

The President of the Republic replied very quickly to this appeal, wishing that the debate about euthanasia may be brought into the spotlight and discussed by the Italian public opinion. We think that international cooperation and support might be very useful to advance this subject in our country, as well as in other countries. Firstly, it would be great to have ideas and suggestions on how you are handling this campaign in your country; secondly, it would be vital for us to spread information on our situation (even on your websites) because mainstream medias – pressed by the majority of the politicians – will likely end up to drop this subject, preventing our society from engaging in a clear and in-depth debate.

Marco Valerio Lo Prete, assistant
Marco Cappato, MEP and Secretary of the Luca Coscioni Association