International

Italy again looks to legalize assisted suicide, despite recent court defeat

assisted suicide, suicide, euthanasia, voluntary assisted dying

Less than a month ago, a referendum legalizing assisted suicide in Italy was blocked by the country’s constitutional court — but already, Italian lawmakers are looking to pass a new law legalizing assisted suicide.

According to Euronews, Italian MPs voted 253 to 117 in favor of legislation allowing people to undergo assisted suicide, seemingly even if they are not terminally ill. The bill, “Provisions on medically assisted voluntary death,” will now move to the Senate.

The bill’s list of requirements to qualify for assisted suicide include having already undergone palliative care and being kept alive by life-sustaining health treatments — which, if stopped, would cause death. The patient must also have a condition considered “irreversible and with a poor prognosis or be the carrier of an irreversible clinical condition, and that such conditions cause physical and psychological suffering that the applicant finds absolutely intolerable.”

While it seems clear-cut — that only a dying person would qualify — this is deceiving.

The idea of a terminal illness, or in this case an “irreversible clinical condition,” brings to mind someone who is going to die within mere days or weeks. Yet a terminal illness is simply defined as a condition that will eventually cause the patient’s death — without a time limit, meaning it could be years upon years. Type 1 diabetes, for example, was previously considered a terminal illness. Consider someone who is elderly and disabled, as well as suffering from Type 1 diabetes; that person’s insulin would be a “life-sustaining health treatment,” and stopping it would cause his or her death. Would this person, therefore, qualify for assisted suicide?

READ: Disturbing revelations about assisted suicide: ‘They may end up drowning’

Italy previously decriminalized assisted suicide in 2019, allowing local ethics boards and health departments to approve or deny individual requests. Last year, a 43-year-old man was allowed to be euthanized because he was disabled — not terminally ill.

After the failed referendum, Pope Francis spoke again about assisted suicide — a topic he has been passionate about, even personally intervening to convince a disabled woman not to undergo assisted suicide. Instead, Pope Francis helped pay for her medical care, which he has emphasized is what people who are ill and disabled truly need.

“I would point out that the right to care and treatment for all must always be prioritized, so that the weakest, particularly the elderly and the sick, are never discarded,” he recently said. “Indeed, life is a right, not death, which must be welcomed, not administered. And this ethical principle applies to everyone, not just Christians or believers.”

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