Authorities in Italy have approved the assisted suicide death of a 43-year-old man identified only as Mario, who is a quadriplegic. Unlike many other instances around the world in which assisted suicide is only allowed for those terminally ill, Mario does not have a fatal illness; instead, his request was approved because he is in significant pain.
According to Politico, Mario was permanently injured in a traffic accident 10 years ago, and has been advocating for the right to die. He initially planned on traveling to Switzerland in order to end his life, but decided instead to advocate for death in his home country of Italy.
The government panel that has approved Mario’s request was an ethics committee that concluded that he is mentally sound, and in overwhelming pain. According to Reuters, the panel decreed that Mario met the conditions of a 2019 ruling that determined a person must be in chronic and intolerable suffering in order to potentially qualify for assisted suicide.
“I feel lighter, I have relieved myself of all the tension I have accumulated over the years,” Mario said, according to the right-to-die group Associazione Luca Coscioni.
“It is very regrettable that it has taken so long, but finally, for the first time in Italy, an ethics committee has confirmed the existence of the conditions for assisted suicide for a sick person,” said Filomena Gallo, Mario’s lawyer.
Father Massimo Angelelli, head of the Italian bishops’ health office, spoke following the ruling. “Life is a received good, which must be protected and defended, in all its conditions. Nobody can be called to be the bearer of the death of others. Human conscience prevents us from doing this,” he said, according to Catholic Herald UK.
Assisted suicide and euthanasia proponents often champion the movement as a way to offer dignified death to terminally ill people, yet this ruling is a state-sanctioned approval for a death that is not terminal. This is a dangerous precedent that quickly leads down a slippery slope, as has been seen in countries like Belgium, which allows for people to be euthanized for almost any reason, and the Netherlands, where a quarter of all deaths are induced in some way.
The ruling to allow Mario’s death in Italy comes as a larger movement is working to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in the country. Part of that advocacy involved a petition campaign earlier this year, which garnered over one million signatures in support.
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