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Italian parliament debates bid to save Englaro's life after president balks

Catholic World News - February 09, 2009

After Italian President Giorgio Napolitano refused to sign an emergency order that could have saved the life of a comatose woman who is facing death from starvation, the government headed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has introduced a similar measure in the country's parliament. The emergency legislation would prohibit doctors from starving Eluana Englaro, the woman at the center of a controversial right-to-die case. Last Friday personnel at a clinic in Udine, Italy, removed the woman's feeding tube, in compliance with a court order secured by her father. President Napolitano said that he would not sign the emergency decree approved by the cabinet last week because it contravened that court order.

Meanwhile government inspectors visited the clinic where Englaro is being kept, to investigate "irregularities" that might be cited as a reason to argue that the clinic does not meet the standards set by the court ruling for a place where the woman could be allowed to die.

In another related development, the Vatican press office confirmed that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State, had a "cordial telephone conversation" with Napolitano after the Italian president had rejected the cabinet decree. The Vatican statement did not offer any criticism of Napolitano's decision, but said that "appreciation was expressed for the acceleration given by parliament to the approval of the projected law."

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