After 17 yrs in coma,Italian woman dies but political debate rages

A Comatose 37-year-old woman at the center of a right-to-die case dividing Italy passed away on Monday night amid an uproar over the government’s last-ditch....

Rome | Published: February 11, 2009 1:23:27 am

A Comatose 37-year-old woman at the center of a right-to-die case dividing Italy passed away on Monday night amid an uproar over the government’s last-ditch bid to keep her alive against the wishes of her family.

The death of Eluana Englaro,who suffered massive brain damage in a car accident 17 years ago,occurred as the case was being discussed by the Senate in Rome. On Friday,doctors at a clinic in Udine,in northeastern Italy,complied with a Supreme Court ruling and began to gradually suspend her food and water intake. The government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi then rushed to introduce an emergency law prohibiting the suspension of food and water to unconscious patients.

As the news of Englaro’s death became known,senators exchanged angry words,with pro-government,center-right legislators calling center-left opponents “murderers.” After months of debate,public opinion was split in this Catholic country.

Englaro’s father reacted tearfully to the end of his legal and political crusade. Beppino Englaro said his daughter’s death had “liberated her.”

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