EUTHANASIA/THE ITALIAN AND WORLD-WIDE DEBATE CONTINUES AFTER DEATH OF LUCA COSCIONI ASSOCIATION'S CO-PRESIDENT
Piergiorgio Welby, co-President of the Luca Coscioni's association, has realised his final will: on the 20th of December 2006 doctor Mario Riccio has ended the sanitarian treatment which kept him artificially alive. The public debate started in September, when Welby sent a video-message to the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, calling for his right-to-die. Suffering from muscular dystrophy, Welby, as well as the Radical Party, wishes a change in the Italian legislation: "If I were Swiss, Belgian or Dutch, - he said - I could escape from this extreme suffering. But I'm Italian, and here there is no mercy." Napolitano, responding in a letter that was made public, said that he was emotionally moved by the appeal and that he hoped a debate on euthanasia would begin "because the only unjustifiable stance would be silence". Reacting to the President's impulse, the Italian Parliament is starting the hearing session for a living will legislation; Marco Cappato, Member of the European Parliament for the radical party, is asking now that the Parliament also respects Welby's and Napolitano's will, to debate about euthanasia. Cappato stated: "Regulating euthanasia means fighting against clandestine euthanasia. Everyone has the right, the freedom to decide on their body and their life." English-subtitled version of the video message to the President This request has stimulated deep interest and solidarity all over the world; the international press has caught this news, for example in France Le Monde and TF1 and in the United States the New York Times. Furthermore, the associations struggling for legalisation of euthanasia are giving space to the Italian debate, such as The World Federation of Right to Die Societies. English version of the written reply by Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic: Dear Mr. Welby, I have listened and read with profound emotional participation the appeal that you wanted to refer to me publicly. I have been touched and hit by it, as person and as President. You have shown full comprehension of the nature and the limits of the role which the Parliament called me to accomplish, following the prescriptions and the spirit of our Constitution. I think that among my responsibilities there is to listen with the greatest attention to those who express feelings and pose problems which do not find answers in the government's, the Parliament's and the authorities' decisions. Therefore I collect your message of tragic suffering with sincere comprehension and solidarity. It could represent an occasion to reflect without hurry on situations and themes of particular complexity on the ethic field, which demand a sensible and deep comparison, whatever the conclusion adopted by the majority at the end will be. I hope that such a comparison will take place, in the most suitable centres, because the only unjustifiable attitude would be the silence, the suspension or the elusion of any responsible clarification. With feelings of renovated participation, Giorgio Napolitano The Luca Coscioni Association has open a mobilitation campaign in order to put the subject at stake. The campaign includes mor than 30.000 signatures petition which have been presented to the Parliament and an eating strike which has involved nearly 700 people.