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The death of a woman by assisted suicide shocks Italy and reopens the debate on euthanasia

The death of a woman who traveled to Switzerland to access an assisted suicide procedure shocked Italy and reopened the debate on euthanasia in the country.

Elena, also known by the fictitious name of Adelina, was 69 years old and suffered from lung cancer diagnosed in July 2021 and for which doctors gave her only a few months to live. She, however, did not have the right to access assisted suicide in Italy since she was not kept alive by life-sustaining treatments, a requirement considered necessary by the Constitutional Court to access the practice.

Elena – whose last name was not revealed – had told her husband and family that she was “at a crossroads” because of her illness, and that was why she had chosen “the slightly shorter path” instead of that “a little more”. long”, which would have made her go through “hell”.

In her last video message, quoted by the pro-euthanasia association Luca Coscioni, she explained that “she has always been convinced that each person must decide on their own life and must also decide on their own end, without restrictions, without impositions, freely. ”, as she had decided to do for herself, “after much thought”.

The woman was accompanied to Switzerland by Marco Cappato, a politician and activist from the Luca Coscioni association.

In a post on Twitter, Cappato wrote on Monday that “Elena has just confirmed her will: she died, in the way she chose, in the country that she allowed.”

This Tuesday, Cappato announced that he was going to denounce himself for having accompanied her to Switzerland to help her die, just as he did in 2017 in two other cases, later facing trial.

“I just reported myself to the Carabineros for having helped Elena. Violent discrimination against sick people has not been overcome in Parliament, but I hope it can be done in court,” this member of the Radical Party claimed on Twitter.

For Cappato it is a new action of civil disobedience after the cases of the musician Fabiano Antoniani, Dj Fabo, and Davide Trentini, both accompanied to Switzerland to access assisted suicide in 2017.

In both cases, Cappato was investigated, tried, and ultimately acquitted.

The case of Antoniani, in particular, had ended up in the Constitutional Court, which with an important decision -known precisely as the “Cappato sentence”-, concluded in 2019 that whoever helps in a suicide is not always punishable, knocking down an article of the Code Criminal (the 580) that dictated the opposite.

Specifically, the Court exonerated those who “expedite the execution of the purpose of suicide, autonomously and freely formed, of a person kept alive with vital treatments and with an irreversible pathology, a source of physical or psychological suffering that it considers intolerable, but that is fully capable of making free and conscious decisions”.

In its ruling, the Court also asked Parliament to legislate on the issue and approve an “appropriate discipline” on assisted suicide, something that has not happened so far.

For this reason, Cappato again runs the risk of being investigated and facing trial, since Elena’s case does not meet one of the requirements listed as necessary by the Constitutional Court to access the practice.

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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