Pro-lifers Defend "Italy's Terri Schiavo"
High Court Gives OK to Disconnecting Feeding Tube
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Englaro, 37, has been in a coma since 1992, when she suffered a car accident. Her case has been called Italy's version of the Terri Schiavo battle that raged in the United States in 2005, and ended in Schiavo's death by dehydration and starvation.
For 14 years, Englaro has been in the care of a group of nuns who, according to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, are the only ones "close to the young woman who still fight for her life." Her father has led the legal battle to have her feeding tube disconnected.
"Many words have been said in Eluana's case," the cardinal stated. "The most beautiful and persuasive of these are those [spoken] by the nuns: 'If there is someone who considers her dead, may they leave Eluana to continue with us, who feel she is alive ... Leave us the freedom to love and to give ourselves to one who is weak.'"
Last weekend, more than 500 representatives of Italy's Centers for Aid to Life gathered to ask Parliament for an emergency measure that would protect people in situations like that of Englaro.
The Movement for Life organization also wrote Italy's president, requesting that he use his "moral authority so that Eluana can continue to be fed by the nuns of Lecco, who have cared for her until now."
Carlo Casini, president of the movement, affirmed that the court's decision "endangers thousands of seriously impaired people who depend on society's capacity to receive them. In short, it endangers all of us when we become marginalized or useless."
Casini added that "the battle for life and for the family is becoming ever harder," so that "reasonable work is not enough; it's necessary to pray more."
The Science and Life association also weighed in on the decision, affirming that it is "a true and authentic death sentence." Their statement asked caustically if the state would follow the example of those nations that prescribe the death penalty, and allow Englaro's death to be filmed, so that "our children and grandchildren can see how an Italian citizen can be condemned by a judge in a civil and democratic state to die of hunger and thirst."
Cardinal Antonelli, nevertheless, expressed his hope that "in the last minute, the case will be reopened and ideology will not completely blind consciences."
"Eluana is in a 'vegetative state,' but she is not a vegetable. She is a person who is sleeping," he said. "The person, also when she is sleeping or disabled, conserves all of her dignity. The person is valuable in herself, not for what she produces or consumes, or for the pleasure or satisfaction she gives to others."
[Antonio Gaspari contributed to this report]