Italy’s ‘euthanasia in disguise’ law

Italy’s “euthanasia in disguise” bill has been passed into law 30 years after it was first mooted.

The law allows citizens to create advance directives about their treatment.

These directives express their final wishes for medical treatment in case they lose the ability to communicate their choice.

The Italian senate passed the bill into law with 180 voting for it, 71 against and six abstentions.

The law has been dubbed “euthanasia in disguise” by Father Massimo Angelelli.

He has given it this name because directives in their “living will” can include a person’s preference as to whether they want to receive artificial nutrition and hydration.

“Providing a person food and drink is not [medical] treatment. It is the normal sustenance of human life,” Angelelli says.

Angelelli, who is the head of the Italian bishops’ conference’s office for pastoral ministry in health care, says the law has “huge gaps”.

In his view, it doesn’t protect patients rights and “pits a patient’s freedom against the freedom of conscience and professional expertise of medical doctors”.

Doctors will have to comply with a law of the state that goes against the commandment of “thou shall not kill,” Angelelli says.

The Church supports informed consent for patients as well as the right to avoid excessive treatments of a “therapeutically obstinate nature”.

These treatments include medical and surgical treatment, including life-support equipment, when it does not offer reasonable hope for recovery.

Last month Pope Francis made the Church’s views clear on the subject of what he called “over-zealous” medical treatment.

“From an ethical standpoint,” Francis said withholding or withdrawing excessive treatment “is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death.”


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