Who has the power of life and death over us?

The Italian Constitutional Court suspended its judgment in the case of Marco Cappato, who accompanied a terminally ill patient to Switzerland to go through with assisted suicide. Cappato could have been recognized guilty of incitement to suicide.

Cinzia Sciuto
Cinzia Sciuto MicroMega, Italy
Source: MicroMega
Who has the power of life and death over us? - NewsMavens
Dj Fabo after the accident. Youtube

Why this story matters:

Who owns life and who has the right to decide when it ends? This is the fundamental question that we must ask ourselves when considering end-of-life care. And this is a matter we should address urgently, considering how medical and technological progress have increased our capacity to extend the average human lifespan.

These new abilities do not guarantee a diginified and enjoyable life for patients.

Doctors and scientists continuously strive to improve their ability to alleviate pain and increase the quality of life of the ill, but even then, at one point we will find ourselves faced with the same question: who owns life and who has the right to decide when it ends?

European legislators can no longer ignore the biological frontiers being shattered by technology -- they need to give patients tools so that they can remain in control of their own destiny.

Details from the story:

  • On February 27, 2017, Fabiano Antoniani (known as Dj Fabo), who was tetraplegic and blind following an accident, went through with assisted suicide in the Swiss clinic Dignitas.
  • He was accompanied by Marco Cappato of the Association "Luca Coscioni for the Freedom of Scientific Research".
  • Dj Fabo had made his story public with videos, letters and appeals requesting access to euthanasia, which is banned in Italy.
  • Cappato was investigated for incitement to suicide (Article 580 in the criminal code).
  • Charges against him were filed but Cappato's attorneys requested a ruling of the Constitutional Court judging Article 580 unconstitutional.
  • On October 24, the Court postponed its decision to 2019, asking the Parliament to provide a new law in the meantime.
  • This suspension of judgment opened a political space to address the issue.
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