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First authorization for assisted suicide in Italy

Tetraplegic man says he feels 'lighter' after decision

(ANSA) - ROME, NOV 23 - The ethics committee of the health authority of the Marche region has authorized assisted suicide to be practised in Italy for the first time, right-to-die campaigners said on Tuesday.
    The case regards a tetraplegic man who is bed-bound after being paralysed from the shoulder down due to a car accident 11 years ago.
    "I feel lighter," said the man, who is being called Mario although that is not his real name, according to a statement by the Luca Coscioni Association, which is helping him in his bid to commit assisted suicide.
    "I have freed myself of all the tension accumulated over the years.
    "I am tired and I want to be free to choose the end of my life.
    "No one can say that I am not too bad to continue to live in these conditions and (thus) condemn me to a life of torture.
    "Everyone should take their responsibilities, putting aside ideology, hypocrisy and indifference because the lives of sick people are being played with".
    Mario is the first person to be granted the all-clear for assisted suicide since the Constitutional Court in 2019 said assisting suicide is lawful in some cases and called on the Italian parliament to fill a vacuum regarding end-of-life legislation. That call was made in relation to the case of Luca Coscioni Association Treasurer Marco Cappato helping a blind, paraplegic man commit assisted suicide in Switzerland in 2017.
    Cappato was subsequently acquitted of charges of assisting suicide in relation to that case by a Milan court.
    The Marche authority granted the request from Mario following two legal petitions.
    "After the Constitutional Court effectively legalized assisted suicide, no sick person had been able to benefit from it, as the national health service hid behind the lack of a law that sets the procedure," said Cappato.
    "Mario is going ahead anyway thanks to the courts and highlighting the buck-passing that is taking place (in the process).
    "What is lacking now is the definition of the process to administer the euthanasia medicine.
    "This tortuous process is in part down to the paralysis of parliament which, (almost) three years after the request of the Constitutional Court, has not even voted on a law that sets the procedure to apply the court's sentence. "The result of this institutional buck-passing is that people like Mario are forced to go through a judicial ordeal on top of the physical and psychological one caused by their condition".
    Over a million people signed a petition spearheaded by the Luca Coscioni Association for a referendum on legalizing euthanasia.


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