The case of Eluana has again sparked a heated debate in Italy about the right to end one’s life. Eluana Englaro’s sufferings ended on Feb 9 2009. Her family had requested the omission of treatment since their daughter had been kept artificially alive for 17 years.
Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi first tried to ‘save’ Eluana with a decree rejected by our President Napolitano. Thence he desperately tried to pass a bill before Eluana’s death. He arrived late. Now he’s about to pass a bill that will impose ‘artificial life’ indefinitely, despite the prior will of the person (the so-called ‘living will’, pre formulated in the event of incapacity) or the desire of the person’s family. This bill will be voted tonight at the Senate and at the lower house in the next days, despite the hostility of the Italian High Court and of the President of the Italian Republic.
(I’m translating Italian labyrinthine politics: this bill was about the ‘living will’ but a last minute prearranged amendment de facto nullified this will. Classic)
I wonder how many people in Italy (or abroad) really believe that Berlusconi and many politicians of his coalition are so religious. Many think – me included – that this is the umpteenth occasion they found to strengthen their grip on power and on institutions, since Berlusconi plans to change the Constitution and the support of the Catholic church in this country is always a powerful political factor.
The Church and strict Catholics applaud. ‘Life’ to them must be saved at any cost. I respect this belief and I respect the Catholic Church, which is somewhat a remnant of what was Rome, and the Pontifex Maximus, or Pope, the last surviving magistrate of ancient Rome.
But, if I respect Catholic beliefs, are strict Catholics respecting the beliefs of others?
I mean, in a free democratic state, how can a religion or a government impose their will on an individual or his family in such private matters? How can they trample on what is, to few (or to many,) their ultimate freedom, death? In name of what? Of so to say absolute truths believed only by a part of the population?
(We’ll skip the historical fact that the first Christians condoned suicide)
What if one belongs to another religion? What if one has no religion? Shouldn’t people be free thinking (and given free choice) and isn’t personal freedom enshrined in the Italian constitution? (art. 13, inviolability of individual freedom)
Isn’t this an expropriation of our civil rights?
This is the problem with some people: all they want is power. This is also the problem with decent people who believe in absolute truths: these truths escape doubt and inquiry and, seen as undeniable, are considered by them mandatory also for those who don’t believe in them.
This I’m thinking while watching on TV all these politicians, some sincere and some not, cheering about the upcoming victory of ‘life’.