Human Exceptionalism

Eluana Englaro Autopsy Ordered

There has been a lot of off stage speculation about the actual cause of Eluana Englaro’s death–in which I intentionally did not engage–inspired by her death coming within days after the beginning of dehydration, a process that usually takes about two weeks. Now, an autopsy has been ordered and so we’ll know soon enough whether these worries have any basis in fact. From the story:

The prosecutor’s office here on Tuesday ordered that an autopsy be performed to determine the exact cause of death of a 38-year-old woman who had been at the center of a highly controversial right-to-die case. Eluana Englaro died Monday evening four days after feeding tube, which had kept her alive in a permanent vegetative state for 17 years, was removed in accordance with a high court ruing and the wishes of her family. She is believed to have died from kidney or heart failure…

At the time of her death the Senate was in the middle of a debate on an emergency government bill which would have made it illegal for carers of people “unable to take care of themselves” to suspend artificial feeding. On the news of her death the Senate observed a minute of silence but this was then followed by a near floor row with members of the government People of Freedom (PdL) party saying Eluana had been “murdered”, while the opposition Democratic Party accused the PdL of “politically exploiting” a personal tragedy.

The only plus I see in this tragedy is that at least there remains a sufficient residual of belief in the sheer importance of human life that her death–and how it happened–still matters.

In any event, I hope she died of natural causes. If not, hold onto your hats!


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