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Italy’s “Terri Schiavo” Dies Suddenly

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer Even while the Italian senate was debating a new bill that would have saved her from death by starvation and dehydration, 38 year old Eluana Englaro passed away due to unknown causes on the evening of Feb. 9. Dubbed as Italy’s “Terri Schiavo,” Englaro died only four days after doctors removed her feeding tube after a court ruled in favor of allowing her to die. She spent the last 16 years in a minimal state of consciousness after a 1992 car accident. Her father had been trying to convince authorities for years that his daughter did not want to live in this way and would have preferred death. The actual cause of her death is unknown but news reports say she had been receiving high doses of pain medication since her feeding tube was removed last Friday. High doses of pain medication such as morphine can cause premature death in patients. Senators were in the middle of a debate over an emergency bill that would have saved Eluana’s life when news of her death was announced. The bill was introduced by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after the country’s communist president, Giorgio Napolitano, refused to sign a decree issued on Friday that would have stopped the process of ending Eluana’s life.  The senate observed a moment of silence as the news was read out in the chamber. However, according to French 24 news, the silence quickly turned to shouting and finger pointing as politicians on both sides of the issue accused each other of trying to make capital from the case. "She didn't die. She was killed," Gaetano Quagliarello, a center-right senator from Berlusconi's party shouted in the senate as other lawmakers screamed "murderers, murderers" towards the center-left benches. The Vatican, which had described the decision to let Ms Englaro die as "abominable", asked for God's forgiveness for those responsible. "May the Lord welcome her and forgive those who led her there (to her death)," Vatican health minister Javier Lozano Barragan told the Ansa news agency.  He also said he would consider it "a crime if any human intervention was decisive in her death." Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo, commented to about Eluana’s death saying, “I’m very sad to hear about Eluana. Our family grieves for her.”  He added that he was “surprised at how quickly she has passed away.” Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International denounced Englaro's killing and expressed puzzlement at her quick death. "To intensely dehydrate a person to death dehumanizes them because it denies them the basic care due to a human person. We turn them into an object," he said. "Everybody deserves basic care, which includes food, fluid, and warmth as long as it is necessary to sustain life. This is not extraordinary treatment." He added: "We ask the question, how did she actually die? She wouldn’t have died in just a few days of dehydration." Many of the groups who were opposed to ending Eluana’s life are pressing magistrates to order the woman's body sequestered pending an autopsy and a full judicial investigation. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace. How has medical technology changed the way we die? What is Church teaching and how can we apply it to our own life and death decisions? In the book, Life Issues,Medical Choices, experts Janet E. Smith, Ph.D and Christopher Kaczor answer these questions, and a lot more! This book is available in our store at