Euthanasia has returned to the forefront of Italian politics since a petition in favor of a referendum passed the legal bar of 500,000 signatures. The Vatican is denouncing it as a “new form of eugenics” and a “dangerous poison” for society.
On the side of the Promoting Committee - the Italian body responsible for the petition in favor of a referendum on the legalization of euthanasia - they are jubilant: the bar of 500,000 signatures paving the way for a popular vote was crossed on the August 16, 2021.
“By expressing our deep gratitude to the thousands of volunteers who devote part of their vacations to providing a public service in order to exercise the right of referendum, we would like to stress that the collection of signatures continues with even greater force, with the goal of collecting at least seven hundred and fifty thousand signatures by next September 30, in order to guarantee the results by ruling out any possibility of errors in the collection and processing of data,” the Committee indicated.
The aim of the referendum is to repeal the law currently in force in the Peninsula, which punishes anyone found guilty of “instigating or assisting a suicide” with from five to twelve years in prison.
The next popular vote will be “the only tool to repeal the criminalization of the so-called 'murder of a consenting person,' and thus remove the obstacles to the legalization of euthanasia, on the model of what is already practiced in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, or Spain,” specifies the Promoting Committee which brings together a complex web of militant associations.
On the side of the Holy See, they are alarmed by a return of the debate on euthanasia: “the temptation of a new form of eugenics is at work: already, those who were not born in good health must not be born.
“And as if that were not enough, we are forging a new concept of health according to which living beings who are not in good health must die: this is euthanasia. It is a dangerous poison that creeps into our culture,” denounces Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
The protection of the most vulnerable patients should therefore be left to the verdict of the ballot box, and to the law of the majority.
This is not reassuring, especially when we remember that in 2019, the Italian Constitutional Court ruled that assisted suicide was “not punishable” under certain conditions, including the “informed consent” of the patient, and only in cases where stopping treatment alone is likely to result in death.