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Italian Government Fights to Save Life of Eluana Englaro

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer The Italian government is racing against the clock to issue emergency legislation that will stop the killing of a 38 year old handicapped woman who is currently being deprived of food and water in a Italian clinic. In an effort to bypass Italy’s communist president, Giorgio Napolitano, who refuses to intervene in the case, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has sent a bill to the nation's Senate authorizing the government to prevent Eluana Englaro from being dehydrated and starved to death at a clinic in Udine, Italy. Eluana was transferred to the clinic on Feb. 3 by her father who received permission from Italy’s highest appeals court to end her life on the basis that she once said she would never want to live in a “vegetative state.” She had previously been in a hospice run by nuns who refused to carry out an order to withdraw the woman's sustenance. Eluana has been in a state of diminished consciousness since 1992 after an automobile accident. She breathes on her own but must be fed through a tube. Much like the case of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, the U.S. woman in a diminished state of consciousness who was murdered by court order in 2005, the decision to permit the dehydration and starvation of Englaro has generated outrage in Italy where killing patients has historically been prohibited by law. Berlusconi is determined to save Eluana. "If the possibility did not exist to use decrees, I would go to the people to request a change in the Constitution and the Government," he said in a recent news conference.   Despite the court’s ruling and opposition by Italy’s President Napolitano, Berlusconi’s majority party passed a decree on Friday saying that feeding “can in no circumstances be refused.”  However, the President must sign the decree before it can become law.   Berlusconi said if the president persisted in refusing to sign the decree, an emergency session of parliament would enact a new law. The Vatican has openly praised Berlusconi’s efforts to save Eluana’s life and did not hide these feelings even during a phone conversation between the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and President Napolitano. "During the conversation attention turned to the case of Eluana Englaro, and to other matters of mutual interest,” said a Holy See Press Office communiqué. “Concerning the Englaro case, appreciation was expressed for the acceleration given by parliament to the approval of the projected law.” The family of Terri Schindler-Schiavo has also joined in the fight to save Eluana. “It is incumbent upon any official to protect and safeguard the value and dignity of all life, regardless of a person’s physical limitations,” said Terri’s brother, Bobby Schindler.  “Eluana is not dying and only needs food and water – the most basic care – to live. This at the very least should be provided for her and we are asking for everyone to contact the Embassy of Italy in the US at (202) 612-4400 or (202) 612-4444, and communicate to the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano that he should IMMEDIATELY sign the decree which would prevent Eluana’s inhuman dehydration death.”   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace. http://www.womenofgrace.com

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