Euthanasia, Another Wave Sweeping Across Europe

Álvaro Lobo Arranz, SJ

 Álvaro Lobo Arranz, SJ / Doctrine / 11 January 2022

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A petition with more than 1.2 million signatures was delivered to the Italian Supreme Court last October 8, calling for a referendum with the aim to legalize euthanasia. Of these almost 400,000 were gathered online. The referendum aims to repeal the regulation in the criminal code that prevents the introduction of legal euthanasia in Italy.

If the referendum is successful, assisted euthanasia would be allowed in the forms provided for by the Law on Informed Consent and Living Will, subject to certain requirements. It would remain punishable if euthanasia involves a person incapable of understanding what is involved, or t a person whose consent has been extorted by violence, by threat, or involves a child under 18.

The current legal system prohibits assisted euthanasia, both in the direct form, where the doctor administers a lethal drug to the person who requests it (Article 579 of the Criminal Code), and in the indirect form, where a person prepares the lethal drug, which is then taken independently by the same  person (Article 580).

Forms of passive euthanasia practiced in the form of omission, that is, refraining from intervening to keep the sick patient alive, are already considered lawful, especially when the   withdrawal of treatment is intended to avoid “therapeutic obstinacy.”  

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