I mentioned last week that Eluana Englaro, an Italian woman who has spent the last seventeen years in a vegetative state, was being moved to a private health care facility so that she can be deprived of the nutrients necessary to live. Late last week, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi stepped in to prevent the removal of life support, and now it looks like the Italian Senate is set to debate the decree today:

Italy’s Senate is set to debate an emergency government decree to stop doctors withdrawing life support from a woman in a permanent vegetative state.

PM Silvio Berlusconi drafted the decree last week, but President Giorgio Napolitano has refused to sign it.

Doctors at a private geriatric clinic in Udine have withheld food from Eluana Englaro since Friday. She has been in a coma since a 1992 car crash.

Medical experts quoted by the Corriere della Sera newspaper said the process should become irreversible within three to five days. Another report said it could take Ms Englaro about two weeks to die.


Pope Benedict asked the faithful yesterday to pray “for those who are gravely ill but cannot in any way provide for themselves and are totally dependent on the care of others.” He did not refer directly to Ms Englaro but reaffirmed “the absolute and supreme dignity of every human being.”