Eluana Englaro: A History Inside Italian Society
Eluana Englaro was a young woman that spent 17 years in a persistent vegetative state due to a horrific car accident. When she was alive, ironically, she stated to her family that she didn’t want futile medical care.
Her request became a high profiled media story as her father, Beppino, fought long and hard to get any kind of media to accept interviews, pitching a story of the right to life, or in Eluana's case, death.
Finally, after a long public and legal battle, Eluana’s father - and legal guardian - Beppino was allowed to stop his daughter from being fed and ultimately, letting her pass peacefully.
Eluana's plight started in February 2009, when Beppino tired to moved her to the Hospital in Udine, where he could start the end of life procedure.
However, the Italian government tried to stop the procedure by Act, following the will of Vatican City, a foreigner state and a great portion of public opinion. But Italian President of Republic Giorgio Napolitano didn’t sign the Act, instead sending it back to the Government. Eluana passed away on February 9, 2009.
After her death, Italian Parliament started the classic path to elaborate a proposal of law about “end of life."
One of the first versions of the law contained the formula: “in any case feeding can never be stopped." With that provision, Eluana’s will wouldn't be realized. Italian people are still waiting for a valid law about this topic, but the future seems to be quite dark.
One year after Eluana’s death, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi wrote a letter stating: “I still feel the pain and the regret for not having done everything to avoid Eluana’s death."
The President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and Berlusconi's allied confided: “I hoped everybody stay in silence and the anniversary of Eluana’s death were not exploited.”
Italian’s public opinion is right in the middle of this issue and it seems that someone from outside (Vatican City or European Union?) could help to move the balance one way or the other.
In the meantime, we wait for the next anniversary when someone else will exploit Eluana's case.
Photo of Beppino Englaro from Adnkronos