Until now, euthanasia has not been allowed in Italy.
An ethics committee in Italy has allowed euthanasia for the first time in a specific case. As the human rights group fighting for euthanasia, Luca Coscioni, announced on Tuesday, a 43-year-old paraplegic has received a statement from the panel that he meets the “criteria for lawful access to assisted suicide”. Until 2019, euthanasia was punished with a prison sentence of five to twelve years.
In 2019, however, the Constitutional Court issued an exception for certain patients. They only need to be “kept alive” by medical treatment and “suffer from an irreversible disease that causes physical and psychological suffering that they find unbearable, while being fully able to make free and conscious decisions.” .
Paralyzed for 10 years
The affected patient used to be a truck driver. He broke his spine in a traffic accident ten years ago and has been paralyzed ever since. He had repeatedly asked the regional health authorities in his place of residence, the Marche region, for approval for the assisted suicide. However, he was denied it until the legal team of the Luca Coscioni Association took action.
“I feel lighter, I no longer have all the tension that has built up in these years,” said the man after the decision of the ethics committee according to the association. The specific modalities and the time of the suicide have yet to be determined.
Legalization of euthanasia in Italy
The Constitutional Court’s 2019 decision sparked a social earthquake in Italy, a country where the Catholic Church still has a strong influence. However, the court decision has yet to be cast in legal form. The Luca Coscioni association therefore started a petition for a referendum on the legalization of euthanasia in Italy and collected far more than the 500,000 required signatures. The referendum could take place as early as next year.
The Patient Protection Foundation understands an assisted suicide to mean “assisted suicide”. The dying person ingests a deadly substance on his own. Another person helps, for example by providing the deadly substance. In Germany, too, there has been a struggle for a new legal regulation of euthanasia since a ruling by the Constitutional Court.