Friday, November 14, 2008

Vatican "Right" to Die

From the AFP:

The Vatican on Friday firmly condemned an Italian court decision allowing a father to remove his comatose daughter from life support, saying "the right to die does not exist."

"Life is sacred, the right to die does not exist," the Vatican's "health minister" Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan said in an interview published by the Italian daily La Stampa.

On Thursday, Italy's highest appeal court upheld an earlier ruling that doctors could stop artificially feeding Eluana Englaro, 37, as it had been proven that the road accident victim's coma was irreversible.

"To stop giving food and drink to Eluana is tantamount to committing murder," said Barragan, who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

"It means letting her die of hunger and thirst, condemning her to a monstrous end," he added.

Englaro has lain in a hospital in northern Lecco since January 1992, and her father Beppino Englaro has been seeking an end to her life support since 1999.

The lower court had accepted testimony that when fully conscious Eluana Englaro had stated her preference to die rather than being kept alive artificially.

Her father hailed the ruling, telling the daily La Repubblica: "I wanted justice and the judges gave it to me. They tried to put themselves in Eluana's place, (to understand) her thoughts, her strength, her freedom and her irreversible vegetative state."

Such a state "does not exist in nature, while medicine can take forced feeding and care to an extreme, even when it no longer serves any purpose," he said.

Barragan also spoke to La Repubblica, saying: "The term 'vegetative state' is appropriate for plants, not human beings."

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