Human Exceptionalism

Doctors Refuse to Dehydrate Italian Woman: The Fight Over “Conscience” Has Begun

I believe that the issue of “conscience,” that is the right of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals not to engage in intentional life-terminating actions will be huge in the coming decade in bioethics. It has already begun in Italy after a father won the right in court to have his daughter’s feeding tube withdrawn. But even though the EU Court has refused to save Eluana Englaro’s life, no doctor in Italy will agree to participate in her intentional dehydration. From the story:

Italian officials say they are taking a hands-off approach after a European court rejected efforts to block a father’s efforts to let his comatose daughter die.

Italy’s ANSA news agency Tuesday said Beppino Englaro has been unable to find a clinic that will facilitate the death of his daughter, Eluana, who has been in a coma for 17 years. “Personally I hope that the woman continues to live, but I can’t interfere with the decisions of her father,” said Edouard Ballaman, president of the regional council of the Northern League.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg Monday rejected an appeal by pro-life organizations trying to block Englaro’s efforts on the grounds that only immediate family could be involved in the decision. ANSA said Italy’s health minister warned clinics last week not to take part in the removal of the woman’s feeding tube.

Judge Greer. Calling Judge Greer! Your courageous assistance is needed again. Calling Judge Greer!

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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