Piergiorgio WELBY, an Italian citizen suffering from muscular dystrophy, has taken upon himself to open the public debate on an individual’s right to choose the time of his/her death. He mustered his very last resources to defend this right which ought to be a prerogative of any person afflicted with an incurable disease who endures a suffering that only he/she is in a position to judge tolerable or not. So far, such freedom of choice is officially recognized only in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and in the State of Oregon.
It is also fitting to acknowledge the gallantry of Dr. Mario Riccio, the physician who listened to Mr.Welby and complied with his request to stop the treatment.
Mr.Welby is now free from the prison of his own body. He has joined forces with Diane Pretty (U.K.), Ramon Sampedro (Spain), Jean-Marie Lorand (Belgium) and Vincent Humbert (France), each one of whom were gallant contributors to this crucial debate on human rights.
The ball is now in the Italian legislatorsâ€™ park: indeed, the Piergiorgio WELBYâ€™s case points a finger at the absurdity of the present situation. May Italy update its laws. Let those whose lives are so severely curtailed that they do not wish to prolong it onto a cruel death.
Mr. Welby, 60, had his wish fulfilled by Dr. Mario Ricci who sedated him then disconnected his respirator; Welby died shortly thereafter on December 20. Anti-euthanasia opponents argue that Dr. Ricci violated the law while Ricci, and Mr. Welby’s family, responded that he simply helped Welby refuse unwanted medical treatment.
The Catholic Church refused Welby a Catholic funeral but hundreds attended the service that was held in a public square in Rome.
View the official statement from the World Federation