Italian woman in right-to-die case worsens


Posted on 12th October 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 10/11/2008 1:51 PM

ROME (AP) _ The condition of an Italian woman at the center of a right-to-die case worsened after she suffered a massive hemorrhage, doctors said Saturday.

Eluana Englaro has been in a vegetative state for 16 years and her father has led a protracted court battle to disconnect her feeding tube, insisting it was her wish.

This summer a Milan court granted his request, setting off a political storm in this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country. Italy does not allow euthanasia, but patients have a right to refuse treatment.

Catholic and anti-euthanasia groups protested the ruling by leaving bottles of water in front of Milan’s Duomo cathedral. Prosecutors appealed the decision and the father pledged not to disconnect the tube before Italy’s high court weighed in.

Carlo Alberto Defanti, Englaro’s doctor, told reporters gathered Saturday at a clinic in northern Italy that over the last two days Englaro had been bleeding from her uterus.

“It was a very abundant hemorrhage, which puts her life at risk,” he said. “This afternoon it stopped. We can’t make predications; if it doesn’t restart she may recover.”

Italian news reports said doctors had agreed not to give Englaro a blood transfusion.

Englaro was 20 years old when she fell into a vegetative state following a car accident in 1992. Two years later, doctors called her condition irreversible.

Her father, Beppino Englaro, has said she had visited a friend who was in a similar condition shortly before her accident and had expressed the will to refuse treatment if in the same situation.

The case has drawn comparisons here with that of Terry Schiavo, the American woman who was at the center of a right-to-die debate until her death in 2005. Schiavo’s husband, who wanted her feeding tube removed against her parents’ wishes, prevailed in a polarizing battle in the United States that reached Congress, President George W. Bush and the Supreme Court.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

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