Italy is on a roll.  First, there’s talk of putting 30,000 Italian troops on their streets to combat crime and rape, then they’re trying to ban ethnic food, and now the Italian government is jumping into personal life-and-death decisions:  Italy faces constitutional crisis over coma woman

The Italian government has been plunged into a constitutional crisis over the fate of a 38-year-old woman who has been in a coma for the past 17 years. Eluana Englaro was left in a vegetative state after a car crash in 1992. After a decade-long court battle, doctors reduced her nutrition on Friday in preparation for removing her feeding tubes, which her father claims would be in accordance with her wishes.

But in an extraordinary turn of events, the country’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, after consultation with the Vatican, has issued an emergency decree stating that food and water cannot be suspended for any patient depending upon them, reversing the earlier court ruling. On issuing the emergency decree, Berlusconi declared: “This is murder. I would be failing to rescue her. I’m not a Pontius Pilate.”

You may remember the similar case of Terri Schiavo a few years back.  Government intervention in that case was ultimately unsuccessful, and her feeding tube was removed and she subsequently died.  It will be interesting to see what happens in Italy.

The fact that both cases share is that the person involved didn’t leave any indication of her wishes in writing, and the situation devolved into who has ownership of her body–her legal relatives or the State.  My view is that the government has no rights in a person’s body, so it ought to be left to her closest legal relative to decide if the person didn’t.

The best solution is to  put your wishes in writing.  It will save your family a lot of grief.

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