On air: The right to die?

eluanoEluana Englaro died on Monday. She’d spent the last 17 years in a coma after a car crash. She passed away three days after doctors removed her feeding tubes.

Silvio Berlusconi says she was “killed”, Italian bishops agree with him.

Her father Beppino had campaigned to let his daughter die peacefully.

She died as the Italian senate were debating an emergency bill to keep her alive.

Eluana’s tragic case has sparked a fierce debate about the issue of euthanasia. It has similarities with the case of Terri Schiavo. She was in a persistent vegetative state after collapsing at her home in the United States in 1990. Despite a fight by her father, Terri’s husband Michael Schiavo fought a long legal battle to have her life support switched off in March 2005.

Terri Schiavo’s father, Bob, wrote a letter to Eluana Englaro’s father before Eluano died.

This type of death is cruel and barbaric. Advocates of euthanasia will tell you to starve and dehydrate a brain injured individual is painless. As a witness to this type of execution I can say this is not true.

If you intend to do this to your daughter, I suggest you prepare yourself for her suffering. She will be reduced to skin and bones. Her eyes will bulge out of their sockets. Her teeth will protrude abnormally and her cheekbones will be enlarged. Need I tell you more. She will suffer beyond belief.

Did Eluana Englaro die with dignity? Something her father believes. Or do you follow the view of Italian Prmie Minister Silvio Berlusconi
that was she killed?

On today’s programme we’ll discuss the “right to die”.

120 Responses to “On air: The right to die?”

  1. 1 ~Dennis Junior~
    February 10, 2009 at 18:50

    I think it is a YOUR RIGHT to make the decision regarding the way, if you want to die…If you have left a LIVING WILL or other legal documentation, telling the parties; what YOUR WISHES are…If you are unable to make any of your own decisions….

    I am sending my condolences and prayers to Ms. Eluano Englaro …family and friends….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  2. 2 Steve
    February 10, 2009 at 18:53

    If there is clear view of a person’s wishes, then there should be a right to die. In this case, there was no clear indication, and I find it HIGHLY doubtful the father’s story that a 21 year old girl talked about not wanting to be on life support before she had the accident. Young people don’t think about those issues, so I simply don’t believe him about her wishes. If she had actually made her views known, then it should be respected, but anything else is murder. I believe she was murdered.

  3. February 10, 2009 at 19:09

    Recently there have been some news reports about new ways to end a coma. One involved a man willing himself out of the coma.

    I seriously wonder whether the doctors had investigated all the options for reviving her. In my experience in the USA, doctors are often unfamiliar with the latest advances and medical research.

    There may have been a way to revive her, but perhaps the doctors were not sufficient motivated to find the truth of it.

  4. 4 Steve
    February 10, 2009 at 19:25

    @ Manx, The doctors didn’t want to state to pay for it, and the parents wanted the story to be behind them, nobody knew the intent of the girl. But generally in law, once you begin to give aid, you are obligated to continue the aid. By removing the feeding tube, it was murder. Had she left instructions saying she wouldn’t want to live that way, they never would have had the feeding tube in the first place. she was murdered as a result.

  5. February 10, 2009 at 20:25

    Individual choices that make sense often make bad choices when they are made into collective ones. Euthanasia perhaps the perfect example of this. A person in terrible pain without the ability to care for themselves can be highly motivated to live while another is not, but we cannot get in the habit the Nazis did of killing the infirm.

    Cheap, chemical solutions to really serious social questions were scars all over the 20th Century. The right to die is being tested in Oregon in the US and we will see whether there are abuses over time. Like the castration debate, opinion on this one is one is as informed by historical nightmares as current pros and cons.

  6. 6 jamily5
    February 10, 2009 at 20:59

    Have to agree with steve on this one.

  7. 7 Bert
    February 10, 2009 at 21:18

    First things first: her name was Eluana. An a at the end, which is the norm for Italian (or Latin) female given names.

    These are difficult situations, and in the US, the Terri Schiavo case was just about identical. Except there, it was her husband wanting to end the ordeal, while her family did not.

    Either way, same issues were being debated, and no easy answers forthcoming.

  8. 8 archibald in Oregon
    February 11, 2009 at 03:54

    That is a bit harsh to say that her own father murdered her by letting her die in peace. Chances are that without life support that she would have died anyways…..

  9. 9 jeff
    February 11, 2009 at 05:25

    Steve, when I was her age and younger, I was very active in the outdoors and had confronted the possibility of my death or worse (paralysis). Therefore, I would not discount the possibility that she had also done that. As a father, I find it hard to believe that it was an easy decision for her father.

    What struck me about the event, was the attitude of “The Church”. The Vatican came out with very strong support for Berlusconi, bringing the full power of the pulpit. I would rather see them put that kind of effort into preventing the starvation of children around the world. Pull their ban on birth control.

  10. 10 archibald in oregon
    February 11, 2009 at 06:13

    I think that it is unlikely that anyone would want to live on life support for years. To imply that the father murdered his own child is a bit over the top, considering she would not have continued to be alive, had it not been for life support. Young people may not consider death in the same way an older person might, but, it is conceivable that she would not have wanted to live out her life in a coma.

  11. 11 Nate, Portland OR
    February 11, 2009 at 07:31

    Its always struck me as odd that some of the people with the most clear and confident views on the glorious nature of the afterlife are the most resitant to allowing people take a short final step to get there. On the other hand, those of us who are more equivocal about the fact and nature of the afterlife are more willing to let our loved ones go. It seems like such an easy decision for the former, but such a painful one for the latter. I am not confident that the non-doctrinaire are right.

    Which brings to mind a quote I recently read from a 17th century theologian named Richard Baxter:

    In necessary things, unity;
    In doubtful things, liberty;
    In all things, charity.

    I think the right & wrong of Eluano’s removal from life support falls firmly in the “doubtful” category. And I think her family deserves charity in the assessments of all people.

  12. 12 Count Iblis
    February 11, 2009 at 12:08

    Didn’t she actually die quite soon after the accident? If my brain were to be so damaged that it can no longer generate my consciousness then, despite the fact that my body can be kept alive, I would no longer exist.

    I think you get all these ethical problems because the law and religion do not take scientific facts about how the world and our bodies really work into account.

  13. 13 Pirabee
    February 11, 2009 at 12:43

    Let’s not get ourselves into a knot about the Church’s viewpoint.God gave us life to live.If the church ever comes out in support of euthenasia the church endangers far more than it can possibly preserve.There are a thousand and one ways euthenasia can be abused.Plenty people who want to live may in their frail states be tricked into or coerced to die.To open such a pandoras box in the name of wanting to be more liberal – or is it more contemporary – is not in the interest of the church,please.

  14. February 11, 2009 at 13:02

    Life is sacred. Everybody should have the right to a happy life. But life shouldn’t become a slow death for those who are interminably ill. They have the right to terminate it if their case is interminably hopeless.

    Some choose to die because of feeling useless, as it happens in Japan where there are about 30,000 suicides every year, especially among the elderly who feel they are just a burden on society. Others choose to die because they feel they have seen what they should and the remaining of their life will be just a series of successive days without any difference.

    People don’t choose to be born. But they have the right to choose how live and die as long as their lives and deaths aren’t a danger to the others. Keeping an incurable person alive just to uphold a principle is cruel in itself. What is wrong with euthanasia is when it is used by unscrupulous doctors and relatives to benefit from the death of a person because of their wealth or the cost of keeping them in medical care.

  15. 15 Peter
    February 11, 2009 at 13:58

    A man tried to kill himself by jumping off a high rise building . He landed on a fat lady and killed her. He survived . Many people wants to die but by the will of God they are unable to. The right to die or kill made out of compassion is not murder . Murder is when you kill out of greed , anger or other selfish motive.
    The church should contemplate on that. To die by the will of God one should try russian roulette. Once only.

  16. 16 Katie Davidson
    February 11, 2009 at 14:44

    I personally feel that the family had every right to make this decision. Eluana’s soul died a long time ago. The feeding tubes were keeping her body alive. Being in a coma for so long and not responding is no way for a human being to live. I think that this was the compassionate thing to do and now Eluana can rest in peace.

  17. 17 Ramesh
    February 11, 2009 at 14:56

    I think it makes sense to allow someone to do die honorably when there is no way to fight the illness and suffering.

  18. February 11, 2009 at 15:12

    I just want to add that since there is no evidence for the existence of either a soul or a God, any decision to kill a person based on reasoning that relies upon these baseless beliefs would be unethical.

    Imagine if I said that because I personally believe your invisible pink elephant friend has left you and gone away, that I feel your life is worthless and therefore I am justified in killing you. It’s murder just the same.

  19. 19 Andrew
    February 11, 2009 at 15:16

    In talking about the right to die as opposed to suicide in general, why is it that there are many strong voices who advocate to others to live by their sense of morality and what is the correct course of action to take. I can say definitely that were I to fall into such a predicament I would not want (a) heroic measures to be taken if I am already in a no-return condition and (b) not to have my life prolonged artificially if I were ima long term coma with no chance of recovery due to significant brain injuries.

    Why is this so hard for others to accept? Why must they dictate how my life ends or is prolonged? 17 years is a long time to be kept alive and for what, many talk of suffering – is that suffering of the patient or the relatives? To be kept alive when you would die normally is not a life is that suffering? To be left to die when you cannot survive other than artificially and have no conscious awareness is that suffering? Why do people who have no real say in the life of such a person feel they must impose themselves into that family’s life? I would certainly not want or appreciate their input as would many dealing with such a situation.

    Is it simply to ease their conscience in some way or that they feel their views superior to any others? You must be able to have control of your own life and not be dictated to by religious or interest groups. In life such decisions about one’s end of life are the most personal and important decisions any human can make and it is not for others to meddle. Concerns as expressed by right to life proponents and their efforts could best be served in other areas and they should have the decency to leave families in peace so they can deal with their grief in their own way and not involve themselves where they have no right to. More offensive are comments such as those made by Silvio Berlusconi to say people were ‘killed’. This is the ultimate insult to families who are suffering.

  20. 20 Assopiah, Ben. Ghana
    February 11, 2009 at 15:18

    I am against suicide of whatever means. I am also against killing of whatever sort. But if life is proven beyond all probabilities of not worth living, such as 17 years on life support, then we must let it go. Eluana can rest in peace.

  21. 21 Steve in Boston
    February 11, 2009 at 15:19

    Regardless of what anyone tells you, life remains a mystery. We don’t know exactly when it starts, or exactly when it ends. We don’t know where it comes from, or where it goes. We don’t even really know what it is.

    All we can do is apply a little common sense. At some point you have to let nature take its course. Keeping someone alive on feeding tubes for seventeen years seems like a clear case of well-intentioned excess.

    If there are next-of-kin who have the desire or resources to keep a comatose patient alive indefinitely, then so be it. If not, there should be a time limit, maybe two years, maybe five years–after which the state should have no further involvement and the patient should be given the old morphine drip and allowed to die painlessly and with dignity.

  22. 22 Andrew
    February 11, 2009 at 15:22


    So what is your opinion on her life? 17 years, no real conscious brain function and presumably many many more years without any life as we consider it?

    That is not life and to prolong a life by artificial means that has no value to the person is simply a horrendous and barbaric act to inflict upon someone.

    To consider there is some vague and faint hope that one day in the next few decades they might awaken for what would amount to a miserable existence is not acceptable. It is also highly unlikely that such miracle awakenings actually occur and we see the resulting life for those very few who do.

  23. 23 Evan, Hillsboro, OR, USA
    February 11, 2009 at 15:27

    If it was the father who made the decision, is anyone doubting that he made absolutely sure that every medical option was exhausted before he made the decision to end life support? He is her father. If he had even a faint glimmer of hope that she could be revived, I’m sure he would have fought to MAINTAIN the life support.

    You cannot die with dignity, you can only live with it.

  24. February 11, 2009 at 15:34

    As with all things ethical, we show a double standard in regard to life support technology. We trust our doctors’ recommendations for treatment when we are ill and say a prayer or cross our fingers that we will recover. But when those same physicians recommend that there is nothing more they can do to revive a patient from a state of vegetation after seventeen years, we declare them to be wrong, self-serving, lacking compassion, murderers, etc.

    1. If we trust OUR non-medical analysis more than the doctors in the case of life support, then why do we continue to bring our illnesses to those same doctors when we want to be cured (kept off life support)?

    2. One’s definition of “recovery” is key here. If recovery means “a beating heart” which only beats because of machines, then I submit we support a society in which no one “dies”. Just plug a tube into us and plug the tube into a wall and, voila, one has “life”. This view of “being alive” is contrary to everything I hold dear, but apparently plugs and beating hearts qualify as being alive to those who are out raged by Eulana’s circumstance.

  25. 25 Anthony
    February 11, 2009 at 15:36

    @ steve

    Since I was in High School, even though I did nothing dangerous or “extreme” (I really just played dorky games), I made my mom PROMISE that if I was ever in the same situation, that she would make sure they pulled the tubes.

    @ Those stating that it was murder

    Stating she was murdered is ridiculous. My mom started sending money to help sick kids in Africa, and there was a year when she couldn’t…..so did she MURDER the kids because she was paying for care and then took it away?

    People not being able to die in peace is a travesty, and the world should grow up and stop living in Disneyland. Those who think that way have never seen their family members suffering in such a matter.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  26. 26 Anthony
    February 11, 2009 at 15:37

    Also, if you can legally abort a baby until its able to live without the help of a mother (in the U.S.), then why the heck wouldn’t you be able to to the same for a suffering human.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  27. 27 Roy, Washington DC
    February 11, 2009 at 15:39

    Being artifically kept alive with no hope of recovery hardly constitutes “living”. If I ever found myself in a Terri Schiavo-esque persistent vegetative state, not only would I want the plug pulled, I would want an OD of something to end things quickly and painlessly. Keeping someone “alive” for so many years in this state is downright selfish.

  28. 28 my way
    February 11, 2009 at 15:40

    unless and until one goes through an experience of making that kind of a decision ,one does not understand the situation completely.
    “I “being a third person can comment/advice /judge that decision, but only the father who went through the process of deciding what was best for his daughter knows the real pain behind it.
    moral /immoral i don’t know. but if a parent made that decision then he made it and he will live with his desion for the rest of his life.
    On one can ease his pain or his burden.So lets not make it worse for him.

    Loss of a kid is something only people who have gone through it know. Silvio Berlusconi or the Italian bishops have no clue/understanding of that pain. so leave the father /family alone.

  29. 29 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    February 11, 2009 at 15:43

    It’s fine with me if Catholics, fundamentalist Christians and others believe that withholding treatment from a person who doesn’t want it is a sin. However, choices about death (and reproduction) are basic, very personal decisions. Religious authorities–and supposedly secular governments who bring religion into civil affairs–have no right to dictate to those who have other beliefs or, as in my own non-theistic case, no beliefs.

    By the way, my attorney has my living will, in which I ask that no unnatural methods, such as respirators, hydration and feeding tubes, be used to sustain my life, should I be unable to speak for myself. I wish to die naturally and with dignity. Here in Switzerland at least, those wishes will be respected.

  30. February 11, 2009 at 15:45

    There should be a scientific definition of life and death. Should a person be declared to be permanently living in a vegetative state considered clinically dead or alive?

    For some, euthanasia isn’t a question of science but of ethics and who has the right and the power to end the life of a person in such circumstances.

    For some euthanasia is like a death sentence for the “crime” of not being to recover at all and there is no patience or resources to let the patient die a natural death.

    However if medicine is administered to calm pain, euthanasia should be allowed to end the suffering of the patients who are terminally ill and further time in this world is just incessant pain from which they can be released just by death.

  31. 31 Anthony
    February 11, 2009 at 15:49

    @ Pirabee

    “To open such a pandoras box in the name of wanting to be more liberal – or is it more contemporary – is not in the interest of the church,please.”

    Are you serious? I watched my Grandpa lie in his bed, crying in the middle of the night, coughing up blood with feces and urine sporadically spurting out, grasping for air, and throwing up most of the food that he was able to get down, FOR MONTHS. How dare you say “in the name of wanting to be more liberal”. People don’t want this to be more liberal, they want this in order to be more humane.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  32. 32 Mukul, Parsippany, NJ
    February 11, 2009 at 15:53

    I think this debate is for a resourceful society. I doubt if poor people without access to resources or health care have a choice like this.
    As far as choosing a side in this debate, I feel if a person has let his/her choice known in past then it should be respected.
    When we don’t know about the choice then immediate family can take a decision (only if it is unanimous) and act.
    When a person without any close friend or family is in coma then all those who are in favor of keeping the person alive should foot the bill.

  33. 33 Monica in DC
    February 11, 2009 at 16:29

    I totally agree with Roy in DC, and @ Steve who said

    “I find it HIGHLY doubtful the father’s story that a 21 year old girl talked about not wanting to be on life support before she had the accident. ”

    I disagree… I knew at age 15 that I would not want to be on life support should something like this happen to me, and to this day (many years later) I stand by that. After the Terry Schivo situation, I made a living will stating this, and think anyone who feels like I do should as well.

  34. 34 gary
    February 11, 2009 at 16:31

    Life need not be maintained by extraordinary means. The bishops know of this bit of Catholic doctrine. All that remains is definition of “extraordinary means.” In any cases where the concept is invoked, its moral definition is very slippery. In the same circumstances, I’m not sure I could make the correct decision. However, at a distance, I’m sure that I cannot. This leads to a useful result: At a distance, neither can Mr. Berlusconi, nor can the bishops. I’ve no idea what Eluana may have wanted, or if her death ends pleasure or misery. I may understand only that Eluana is dead, and that in all probability she died long before her body, and to say requiescat in pace.

  35. February 11, 2009 at 16:36

    I agree with Anthony’s arguments.

    Berlusconi’s charge of murder is reprehensible. Seventeen years of watching your daughter in this state must be experienced to be understood. Heaping accusations on her Father’s head shows total lack of compassion, whoever criticises.

    My living will should prevent me suffering unnecessarily, but young people seldom think of making living wills. Should they receive less consideration or compassion because of that?

    ‘Living’ in a coma is an oxymoron. I extend my deepest sympathy and understanding to her Father.

  36. 36 Tony from Singapura
    February 11, 2009 at 16:40

    This womans sdeath started many years ago and ended just recently. It was a very slow death indeed. In my oppinion the doctors that terminated the feeding did not commit murder, they mearly participated in a death that was 90% completed by a car accident. To say theycommitted murder is to strong a word.

    I hope somebody would do the same for me if I was under similar circumstances !

  37. 37 John in Scotland
    February 11, 2009 at 16:48

    Surely the quality of our ‘ right to die’ is manifest in how well we organise our ” rights’ to live” .

    A society that gives human rights to all is more likely to show the appropriate sensitivity and care for an individual that cannot speak for themselves , like this poor girl

    In Gaza last month the children didn’t get any choice …they just died.

    Strange how often it is that those who shout the loudest about the right to life , whether it be the unborn child or the terminally ill, are the same ones who back right wing policies that bring misery and war to others ….

    ……..bit of a disconnect there me thinks

  38. 38 Andrew
    February 11, 2009 at 16:58

    I am going to compare us with them. Why is it that we are so willing to quickly euthanase any sick or lame animal yet despite all wishes and obvious suffering so many are willing to defend to the end their belief that someone in a much worse situation must not ever be allowed to even contemplate ending their lives, that despite being terminal or for all intents, dead, that their life must be prolonged in spite of any sense of decency or logic?

  39. 39 Steve
    February 11, 2009 at 16:59

    @ Monica.

    If She really had that conversation, which I HIGHLY doubt, then she obviously thought about it enough that she would have gotten a living will. She chose not to get a living will. I still don’t believe that story at all. her father wants her to be dead to be relieved of the burden, and she never said what her opinion was on end of life matters. Had she really believe what her father claims she said, she would have gotten a living will. She didn’t. This is what happens when you don’t have a living will, now she’s been murdered.

  40. 40 archibald in oregon
    February 11, 2009 at 17:35

    We all have the right to die as much as we have the right to live. Anyone who seeks to impose a standard of preliminary suffering, as per gods will, before that death occurs is delusional, possibly sociopathic.
    When a horse breaks its leg, or a dog is run over by a car, chances are that it gets a bullet in the brain, so it will not have to suffer. This decision is made daily, all over the world and seen as a humane act. Why do we hold ourselves above all of the other creatures that dwell in this world? Their lives are no less valuable, in some cases more. Yet, we dispatch myriad creatures daily and without remorse.
    Priests have no problem blessing men as they go off to war to “euthanize” the enemy and possibly themselves. Why this?

  41. 41 Robert
    February 11, 2009 at 17:41

    Seven years ago I was put in a position where I had to make the decision about taking my mother off the external devices the was on in Hospital. This is what happened:

    My mother had an aneurysm on her carotid artery which resulted in blood loss to her brain. My father called for Paramedics and got her to Hospital quickly but not quick enough. While they were able to get my mother on feeding tubes and a machine to help her breathe there was no brain activity, and the aneurysm was located in such a place it could not be repaired.

    Luckily she had a “living will” which gave my father power-of-attorney about what to do in cases she was unable to make decisions for herself (my father had a similar one giving my mother power-of-attorney) This turned out to be a MISTAKE. Please learn from our experience. My father could not make this decision about a woman he was married to and loved for over fifty years. Luckily our lawyer had us put a “back-up” person in case the first person was not able for what ever reason to be available for these critical issues.

    I was the second person on the list. All my father had to do was tell the ICU nurses that he couldn’t function in the role the living will outlined and then they could take “orders” from me. My father asked if I was troubled by having to make a decision about having the doctors remove the feeding and breathing machine. I said no, I had no problem – in fact it was a gift. Of all people, my mother trusted me with her life – what better gift can someone give you than that level of trust.

    And as to whether I’ve ever had any second thoughts,? No, I knew my mother was brain dead on the day she was admitted to the hospital. From the time my father called to Paramedics to when my mother arrived at Hospital enough time had passed so she had been deprived of too much oxygen to her brain.

    My only wish is that our society would welcome death as a natural event, but in my opinion until we get over being scared of death this won’t happen.

    I’ve been following the story of Ms. Englaro and I’m sorry her family had to focus on fighting the legal system instead of celebrating her life. I wish them well and that she and the rest of her family can start the healing process now.


  42. 42 Anthony
    February 11, 2009 at 17:49

    So let me get this straight:

    Living will + euthanasia = humane ending

    No living will + euthanasia = murder

    I just looked around online, and a “Living Will” looks to average $1,000.00 (and up!!!), and we all know how many 19 year olds have 1K sitting around, and if they do, I’m sure a Living Will is the best kind of investment for a 19 year old. Come on people….really?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  43. 43 Steve
    February 11, 2009 at 17:57

    @ Anthony

    I just looked online and a living will kit costs $40, and I’m sure a 21 year old could afford that.

    Face it, 21 year olds don’t think about dying.


  44. 44 John in Scotland
    February 11, 2009 at 18:03

    @ tony from Singapura

    Hi Tony, I agree ..same for me . I suppose however there is the particular question of how . Perhaps just removing the feeding tube is a bit of a cop out . Could that not be a cowardly compromise with those who oppose intervention .

    I dont know… sounds like it could be painful / stressful in some way .Do we trust our ‘knowledge’…….difficult ….I don’t relish the idea of playing god .

  45. 45 Monica in DC
    February 11, 2009 at 18:04

    @ Steve,
    Murder? That is ridiculous. 17 years of this girl lying in a coma, technically alive but certainly not LIVING… The burden on the family was probably more that of watching their child in this state. You don’t know these people, so why think the worst of them?

    And by the way- I never thought of a living will until the Terry Schiavo case, and I was already well past 21 by that time. Most young people probably don’t, as Eileen in VA already said.

  46. 46 Monica in DC
    February 11, 2009 at 18:07

    Oh and by the way Steve… I lost a good friend in a car accident when I was 16, so please don’t tell me 21 year olds don’t think about dying.

  47. 47 Vikram
    February 11, 2009 at 18:08

    24000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes, now that is an issue worth discussing. Governments allow thousands to die every year by tobacco and alcohol abuse but have a problem when someone picks a more humane way of ending their misery. This hypocrisy has to end!!!

  48. 48 Matt
    February 11, 2009 at 18:10

    The suggestion that the woman could have borne a child is rather ludicrous–does he mean to imply that he would have allowed an unconscious woman be raped to bear a child against her will?

  49. 49 Michael in Alameda, USA
    February 11, 2009 at 18:10

    If taking somebody off life support that will likely not recover is murder, than thousands of such murders happen in my country every year. The case of Terri Schiavo was widely publicized in the US. But what was seldom mentioned is that without the financial backing of a wealthy family, her life support would have been removed long ago. That’s what happens to people without lots of money.

    And if the catholic church and their supporters want to save lives, they could take the thousands of dollars spent on a permanently comatose patient and invest them in helping people in the third world. That kind of money would save many many more lives.

  50. February 11, 2009 at 18:13

    I can’t believe Berlusconi’s political exploitation of what should be a private family affair.

    To call Eluana’s father a ‘murderer’ after what must have been a long and painful decision is unforgivable.

    The Terry Schiavo affair in the US is now a huge political embarrassment for the Republican party, and made a painful event 100 times worse than it should have been. One would think Berlusconi would learn from that, but then again, he has never proven himself to be particularly intelligent. Just politically shrewd.

    His WEIRD comment about Eluana still being in the condition to have babies is terrifying. What could he possibly mean? The only way she could get pregnant would be through rape. Is that what Silvio’s dreaming of?

  51. 51 Fred in Portland OR
    February 11, 2009 at 18:14

    I wish the Englaro family peace and support.

    They made an incredibly hard decision, one which I think, is the right one.


  52. 52 Jason
    February 11, 2009 at 18:14

    I absolutely believe that NO ONE except the patient and the family should be involved in any “end-of-life” decisions. Ideally, we should all have iron-clad living wills that would preclude church, state, or any other allegedly well-intended do-gooders from interfering. This is as intensly personal a decision as abortion, and no governmental or religious organization ahould have the right to dictate either scenario.

  53. 53 Edwin Morales, San Francisco
    February 11, 2009 at 18:14

    I completely understand the idea of waiting for several months or a year for a loved one to recover. Keeping someone’s vital functions running for seventeen years is not keeping them alive, it’s refusing to let go of a loved one.

  54. 54 Steve
    February 11, 2009 at 18:15

    Also, if she’s in a coma, she wasn’t suffering at all. So how can you end suffering that doesn’t exist?

  55. 55 Anthony
    February 11, 2009 at 18:18

    @ steve

    You forgot that a lawyer needs to sign off on it, and it must be processed, which are additional fee’s, and I’m sure if you really wanted to have a living will, you would want a do-it-yourself kit off of the internet, and lets not forget the different laws, I’ve just read that California has a bunch of different laws than in other states.

    But, you’re right, 21 year olds don’t think about it, I’m not doubting that….my question is why should they? This is ONE case. You’re more likely to get killed by bees than be in a situation like that. If you’re gonna worry about this, then why not worry about building a bomb shelter incase of a nuclear war, learning how to improvise explosive devices in case of an invasion, and learning how to deliver a baby just incase. If you’re 21 and worrying about this, then where do you stop?

    So, all I want to say is people like this should be able to die, WITHOUT a Living Will.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  56. February 11, 2009 at 18:19


    It’s precisely because young people don’t think about dying, that they don’t make living wills. People frequently talk about their intention many times, sometimes years, before they actually get around to making such a will.

    If her Father had taken this decision a few days after the coma started, I could understand your criticism. But 17 years is a very long pause for thought. Use your imagination to envisage someone you love in that state for so long, without hope. Pause for thought before you accuse him of murder and add insult to injury.

  57. 57 Bert
    February 11, 2009 at 18:19

    I think there’s a very big difference between allowing someone who is, as far as we can tell, brain dead die, and letting someone who is conscious die. I believe that it is only brain activity that makes us humans. So it seems to me that the case of Eluana and Terri Schiavo is less controversial than other situations might be.

    Not saying I have a good answer for all such situations. Just that this case does not seem the same as some of the cases being discussed on the air. This isn’t about “pain and suffering.”

  58. 58 margot in oregon
    February 11, 2009 at 18:20

    This is totally not a matter of killing someone. It was human intervention in the form of feeding tubes that was keeping her alive. If humans had not intervened she would have died long before this. By removing the tubes, human intervention was removed and she was left to die naturally.

  59. 59 gimia
    February 11, 2009 at 18:21

    The answer here is crystal clear: Eluana Englaro was killed! Her life was delibrated upon and taken away from her.

  60. 60 Warren
    February 11, 2009 at 18:22

    Prolonging life or prolonging death?

    When there is essentially no chance of recovery and the quality of life is nonexistent, you are not prolonging life but instead you are prolonging death.

    Oregon, USA

  61. 61 CJ McAuley
    February 11, 2009 at 18:22

    Being now 50, a severely lapsed Roman Catholic (for an action by a priest at at the funeral of a close relative 25 years ago), I find the Vatican’s interest in this case problematic. I am sorry for the accident that left this woman in a coma for 17 years, but it is only modern technology that kept her alive for so long!
    For the central tenet of most religions rests upon things that happened(supposedly) both centuries and millennia ago. The RC Church forced Galileo to recant for stating what he had observed: that the Earth is not the center of the universe! Bottom line: no religion has any business in asserting anything over purely personal decisions!!!

  62. 62 Megan
    February 11, 2009 at 18:24

    I live in the United States, in Oregon. Oregon is the only state in the union that has a law on the books allowing physician assisted suicide in the case of the terminally ill. Several other states have tried to pass laws like this, but Oregonians are the only people so far who have reached out in compassion and stubbornly protected this right that people have to reject life that is only suspended by the presense of technology and at the expense of their families and their joy. This law allows people to hurry through the painful last hours of a tragedy with dignity and peace of mind. I’m proud to live in a state that allows families and individuals to make these difficult choices for themselves. Government sets up regulations and restrictions to prevent abuse of these laws and then ducks out and lets families make the right choice for them.

  63. 63 Steve
    February 11, 2009 at 18:24

    @ Margot

    Human intervention? How many babies do you know feed themselves? So parents shouldn’t be charged with murder if they don’t feed their children and their chilhdren die from starving? Pleaes.. People need to think about this topic logically, rather than emotionally.

  64. 64 Eric in France
    February 11, 2009 at 18:26


    About Eluana, I would like to ask those opposed to the justice decision when it would have been a good time. Should we have keep her like this for 100 years? If science allows in let say 50 years from now to slow or stop the ageing process, should such patient receive it? After all, if there is a chance that in 200 years she wakes up why not.

    We are not asked if we want to born, but then we are asked to take ownership of our lives and move on. As death is part of the live cycle, who are those that wants to take from us that right to end the cycle when it pleases us? I guess those are called fascist, nazist, fanatic believers, or in other words: just terrorist. They think that pain is the reason of life.

    As well as we should all formally decide if we wish to give our organs when dead, we should also very early decide if we want to be kept alive by all means in case of degenerative deceases or vegetative state. This is about one self and values.


  65. 65 Bert
    February 11, 2009 at 18:28

    Margot, I don’t necessarily agree that the feeding tubes are what make a difference. Let’s say that Eluana was fully conscious, e.g. surviving with the aid of a heart-lung machine. Would that have been the same thing as this case?

    I think not. Had she been fully conscious, even if on life support, the decision to pull the plug would far more questionable.

  66. February 11, 2009 at 18:30

    First of all I want to say I’m in favor of the right to die.
    With that said, why is it OK for someone with a terminal physical illness to end thier life with dignaty and for some one like myself who suffers from chronic depession an not legally end my life.
    The quality of my life is no better than those with physical illnesses. I’m forced to take pills that leave me listliss or endure the pain of depression.
    What is the differance

  67. February 11, 2009 at 18:36

    The nerves from my sciatic nerve down both legs have left me in such excrutiating pain that I’m unable to do even the smallest things for my wife or daughter. It keeps me up all night so that I’m constantly in a state of exhastion. Added to that is continuous spasms in both legs that are easily visible, cramps in my feet that cause them to try to roll up into a ball. Also my body jerks to intensely that it causes me to jump from the chair and that I can only describe as feeling like sticking my finger into a 500volt socket. This has been going on for 18 years now and I can fully understand those who take their own lives. You get to a point to where you cannot take any more and you have no more strength to go on. I understand these people who take their lives. What I don’t understand is these sadistic people who find joy in making people suffer their whole lives. I have to wonder if one day they found themselves living in the hell we go through how drastically their opinion would change.

  68. 68 Maureen
    February 11, 2009 at 18:38

    Maureen Donohue
    Dear Chloe,

    I find it Allison’s testimony very disturbing. She says she had recovered and was controlling her pain. This is not my experience with my neurological problems, nor the experience of my brother Mark, who is only 54 and fighting everyday to go to work and survive financially as well as physically.

    Second of all, as I had told you before, every day old people who have strokes are left in comas and left without nurtition. I watched my grandmother shrink away before my eyes and the doctors told me she was not suffering. I have worked in hospitals and seen this over and over again.

    Third we haven’t discussed the actual discomfort Eluanna would feel if she had any consciousness. Every day she had to be fed, turned, bathed, her eyes moisturized, her feet and hands massaged to stop the muscular contractions. It’s horrilble to watch.

    As for pain and suffering when there is no cure coming I have found medications to interfere with living. One cannot work, can pay for essentials. I drop things, cannot open bottles cannot stand up on line at the supermarket.

    I think of suicide everyday but, as long as I have some quality of life I will go on and try to be with my daughters and grandchildren as well as friends.

    But I have seen terrible suffering unrelieved by medical help. My friend John is bedridden with Mystania Gravis and chooses to live. He cannot survive without a feeding tube. His teeth are rotting and the expense his wife and he have to pay is breaking both of them. But this is his choice and I know he prays for a cure. I hope for him that this is true.

  69. 69 John in Scotland
    February 11, 2009 at 18:41

    Everything is context bound.So what will be the predictable outcome and policy on this ,in a society :

    dominated by a burgeoning ‘non productive ‘ eldery population , with diminished health resources due to financial cutbacks , and in a world where natural resources are becoming more and more scarce and fought over by ‘nation’ states.

    Unless we make the right choices in the coming few years , then perhaps for all our ‘moralising ‘ we’ll end up with the opposite of what we now might ”ideally” intend ……just a thought .

  70. 70 Dan
    February 11, 2009 at 18:42

    If one is an adult injured in an accident unable to interact with their world or be who they are and without a quality of life are they alive?

  71. 71 Leah
    February 11, 2009 at 18:43

    I think the kind of people who have a problem with letting a suffering person die are the kind of people who are insecure about life. They spend their lives trying to create order and categorize things into good, bad, right, and wrong. In situations like this one just has to go with what they feel is in the best interest of the patient.

  72. 72 Robert
    February 11, 2009 at 18:47

    This clearly shows that none of us has right to life. We may try to sustain life or prolong it but in due time we lose the grip. As a result the decision to stop the sustained life comes in. As long as a human hand is involved in stopping life, it is murder.

  73. 73 Alistair Blunt
    February 11, 2009 at 18:47

    How can the death of Eluana be classified as murder. Eluana died naturally, because she was unable to ask for food, feed herself, drink the necessary fluids to keep her alive. The issue is, when someone does not do whatever possible to save a life, are they murderers? We let people die in Congo because we do not send peacekeepers. We let people die when they ask not to be revived. My father died in hospital because he had said, if my heart stops, do not try and revive me. I respect his decision for his quality of life was very poor. But if you apply the Pope’s criteria, my father was either mudered, because he was not revived, or committed suicide becaiuse he refused help. I dont believe it was either. he died naturally, and was not kept alive unaturally.

  74. 74 Anthony
    February 11, 2009 at 18:49

    @ steve (& gimia)

    Babies still suck on the breast. These people just lie there, and are focred. I’m curious as to what the benefit is for ANYONE in these situations to keep someone living in a vegitative state?

    @ everyone

    And are we talking about legalities of life and death? So since Congress and Bush decided to go and kill a bunch of Iraqi’s with signed legal documents, that’s OK, it was legal, but someone suffering for 17 years can’t not be forced nutrience after a horrible existence. Man, what a funny world we live in.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  75. 75 Anthony
    February 11, 2009 at 18:50

    Quick question…..who here would want to be alive in this state? I’d like to hear ONE person say yes to that.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  76. 76 Patricia
    February 11, 2009 at 18:50

    The debate seems to me to be focused soley on our all-too-human but very narrow focus on the physical body. No one seems to be taking into consideration the spirit or soul of this young woman, which was trapped in her physical body for 17 years. I commend her father who it seems to me recognized this, and as a parent was determined to do everything he could to help his daughter’s spirit/soul be free. Everyone else should “walk in his shoes” before they judge or try to legislate such a decision. His appears to have been based on love.

  77. 77 Maureen
    February 11, 2009 at 18:52

    John is totally correct. He has no reason to feel guilt. I remember feeding my grandmother and weeping begging her to stay with me. She was beyond hearing me. The doctors make mistakes but I knew that she was dying and relieved to see her slip away. Sometimes she would smile in her sleep. I don’t think she suffered.

    As for Eluanna her father had said she had seen a friend in a coma and told her father she would never be in that situation. I had a near death car accident at 23 years of age, went to work in a hospital a year afterword and already made my decisions about the right to die which have not changed to this day.

    Why does the church worry so much about the physical life when they believe in the life of the soul? If this life is not as important as the life of the soul why do they fuss so much?

  78. 78 Melissa
    February 11, 2009 at 18:54

    I believe that keeping anyone in a vegetative state alive by artificial means for enlongated periods of time when they would have passed on naturally is a perversion of nature and indicitive of our collective fear and misunderstanding of the natural process of death. Yes life is sacred, but so is dying a natural death.

  79. February 11, 2009 at 18:55

    What I am trying to say is that if it wasn’t for my strong religious faith I would’ve ended this hell years ago. But more importantly is the fact that if you have not been through this and experienced the mind-numbing, disabilitating pain then you have no reference and no right to put forth your opinion!!!!

  80. 80 Pam in Portland
    February 11, 2009 at 18:56

    Like Megan, I’m grateful that I live in Oregon, where people are not forced to suffer through a painful, ugly death.
    My mother died in hospice 2 years ago. She received pain medication, but nothing else. Despite being 81 years old, suffering from COPD and having just had hip surgery, she lingered for 2 weeks. But she was peaceful and out of pain and had her family around her. She must have told us 100 times that if we allowed her to be kept alive on a feeding tube, she would come back and haunt us – & I believed her.
    Interestingly, if she had been here in Oregon, she could not have chosen assisted suicide, as she had Alzheimers, as she could not make a rational decision in that state. However, she did make a living will and made her feelings very clear, long before she became so ill, so we were able to withhold life-sustaining measures.
    People should not make judgments about this issue unless they have actually faced it.

  81. 81 Chloe
    February 11, 2009 at 18:58

    One could argue that removing a feeding tube and allowing them to die of natural causes – in these cases starvation – is cruel. Clearly removing a feeding tube is a direct action to the person’s death. Why make them wait for days to die when you could administer a dose of Morphine that would provide a swift and euphoric death?

  82. 82 Henry
    February 11, 2009 at 18:58

    The “right to live/die” belongs to the individual. However, when the individual is incapacitated the responsibility falls to the next of kin. Even if the person did not announce their personal views on extended life support, it is the family who know her to determine what her wishes most likely will be.

  83. 83 John in Scotland
    February 11, 2009 at 19:06

    @ john and Robert .

    guys my heart goes out to you both . I don’t know how I’d cope quite frankly . Its all very well rationalising things , but its what gets you in the guts , and until you,ve been there like you guys you cant fully judge . Love and death are not bed fellows ……I dread the day I might have to make a ‘decision’……..if I lost my son ..I’d go with him.

  84. 84 Bruce
    February 11, 2009 at 19:09

    I live in Oregon, which enacted the first assisted suicide (death with dignity) law in the nation. Before it was enacted, opponents predicted it would lead to horrors — people having their parents or grandparents killed to get their inheritance, people who weren’t really near death being euthanized, suicidally depressed people flocking to Oregon to be euthanized. None of these things happened. The voters of Oregon have approved this law twice — once to enact it, and again when opponents put a measure on the ballot to repeal it and were defeated — and in last November’s elections our neighbor state of Washington voted to follow our example.

    I am convinced that the opposition to laws like Oregon’s, and to allowing comatose people like Terri Schiavo and Eluana Englaro to die, is rooted in fear and denial of death. Death is the normal, natural and inevitable culmination of life. We need to accept that. If someone wishes to linger for weeks, months or years in agony for religious or other reasons that’s their right — but it is not their right to force other people to undergo the same ordeal.

  85. 85 Louise
    February 11, 2009 at 19:09

    My program air has been interrupted by the local station so I have missed a bit of the broadcast, but I have not heard anyone saying that there is a difference between existing and living, between a body being supported so as to make it look like it is the home of a sentient being and that really being so. Also I hear some confusion between “killing” and “letting die”.. Modern medicine can revive a body and use many tools to make it appear to be alive, but the reality which made it think and talk and appreciate living is not present. After a 17 year “coma” it seems likely that the animating presence of the “person” is gone.

    There is also a different tool than a “living will” to make sure that a person has a presence in the discussions regarding medical care and all. It is called an Advance Directive and allows any individual to identify a person or persons whom they trust to be able to
    represent their values, will and wishes in any decision considerations taking place while that person is too sick or injured to participate in the conversations personally. This document, in addition to written directives and conversations with the person(s) entrusted with the role of repersenting the patient in medical decisions will allow for each of us to have a say in the processes taking place as we either recover from or die from the assaults of disease or accident.

    All of these discussions about the sanctity of life seem to be so small compared to the reality of the thousands of lives lost every week, perhaps daily, around the world to hunger and highly treatable common illnesses of poverty and neglect. What about the value of these lives?

  86. 86 Steve
    February 11, 2009 at 19:11

    @ Henry

    Say if the next of kind financially benefits from the death of the individual? I would have less of an objection to what you say if ayone making life or death decisions does not financially benefit from the death of the person (ie should be ignored in a will or intestacy statutes if the decedant didn’t leave any indication of their views on end of life issues).

  87. 87 Myng
    February 11, 2009 at 19:18

    If you carry the belief of an immortal soul and an afterlife, then what is the fear of allowing a body to die, especially if you believe that the soul is immortal and that life is just a test phase? If you do not believe in an immortal soul or an afterlife, and attribute the concept of personhood to higher order brain function and complex social interactions, then again, what is the fear of allowing a body to die, especially if that higher order brain function and complex social interaction has ceased? Everyone in the course of history, to the best of my knowledge has died or will die. It is a natural component of life.

    Within the past week I lost a family member. She died, in my opinion, standing up. That is, she controlled her last days. She was smart enough to have an advance directive in place, one of her close friends who had a good head on her shoulders had medical power of attorney, and she passed away surrounded by love.

    If she had been unconscious, her friend would have refused heroic measures, and we would have all understood.

    Of course, if we were in Italy, her DNR and her advance directives, both components of her right to live her life as she pleased, would have been ignored. She would have been kept alive with a feeding tube, a respirator, and would have lost her sense of personal dignity in the process. She died on her terms.

    What is the point of sustaining life that is not life? Beyond being a physical representation of the memories of who that person was, what is the use, for both the family and the individual, in sustaining a body that is an empty shell? If the part of the brain that is responsible for awareness, complex social interaction, memory and personality is dead, then what is the point? Is it to sustain life just because we can? Is it because we are scared that we will somehow hurt the person who was more than they are already hurt? Or is it to protect ourselves from our own sense of loss, hurt, an possible guilt at not doing more?

  88. 88 Bruce
    February 11, 2009 at 19:24

    @ Steve:

    “Also, if she’s in a coma, she wasn’t suffering at all.”

    That isn’t necessarily true. And if it IS true it undercuts your argument, because if she can’t feel or experience anything, in what sense can she rationally be described as “alive”?

  89. 89 "John"
    February 11, 2009 at 19:28

    I helped my mother when she was in a coma in her 76 year. She was very ill before the coma. In her 60’s she asked me so many times to help her if the time came that I threatned to do it that evening if she kept on bring up the subject. She died very peacfully I know as I was there. The Italian primeminster should keep out of this.

  90. February 11, 2009 at 19:31

    “John” in the Netherlands

    I helped my mother when she was in a coma in her 76 year. She was very ill before the coma. In her 60’s she asked me so many times to help her if the time came that I threatned to do it that evening if she kept on bring up the subject. She died very peacfully I know as I was there. The Italian prime minster should keep out of this.

  91. 91 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    February 11, 2009 at 19:36

    Hi WHYSers!

    Good to be back…sort of! LOl! Seriously, though, I have to begin my response by saying that I am Roman Catholic and that the Church teaches that death is not ours to decide, a view which I believe in. However, I am also of the view that human rights should be defended at all costs. The right to die is one such right, except it appears to stand in contravention of ‘rights’ (to life) by their very definition. In other words, if human rights are about the rights to life, liberty and property (I think?), then where does the right to die (with dignity) come in?

    And, that is not to say that I do not believe that we should be able to choose. It just seems to me that based on Mr. Shiavo’s letter that the ‘humane’ death proposed by ‘turning off the feeding tube’ is really not that humane, after all. I guess we feel better not shooting or otherwise inhumanely exterminating those in a vegetative state?…Don’t know! Just curious, I guess.

  92. February 11, 2009 at 20:17

    To Greg Chance.
    I also suffer from sever sciatica.
    The only thing that has allowed me to live has been an epidural into my spine.
    Ask your surgeon about it.

  93. 93 Joanne
    February 11, 2009 at 21:01

    If we want to argue that we have the right to live with dignity, then we should equally have the right to die with dignity. I cannot PERSONALLY imagine my life having much value if I’m bedridden, incapable of recognising those I loved, incapable of controlling basic bowel movements.

    Yes, there are always dangers of abuse, so I think all cases should be dealt with on a case by case basis.

    Whatever our thoughts on God might be – we can all agree that some people’s lives are taken too soon, and others are taken too late.
    (Thank you Boston Legal)

  94. 94 harold Pearson
    February 11, 2009 at 23:17

    I am sixty eight and suffered a small stroke some 4 years ago that damaged my Thalmus. This has resulted in what is known as Thalmus Pain syndrum which can get worse as I get older. I believe that, in particular, with older people where there is no possibility of recovery and a life of pain and suffering is the only option they should be allowed the “off switch” if they want it. Being older means I have lots of lovely memories and I do not want those tainted with years of suffering prior to my death.

    Harold Pearson

  95. 95 Jennifer
    February 12, 2009 at 00:26

    I am glad that she is no longer suffering. She was beautiful.

  96. February 12, 2009 at 01:18

    Poor Eluana !.
    What a pity that Scientists in your time are only able to coma through feeding pipes. For so many years these same Failures called Scientist ( and Doctors) had all the time in the world to become heros themselves, but they only followed routine: no doubt that even the feeding pipe was not invented by the current generation of Doctors and Scientist. The Church and the many who rightly termed your ( poor Eluana’s ) death Murder are right in that the believe in Miracle would have been facillitated by Scientific Breakthroughs. May your beautiful Body and gentle soul find rest @ the bossom of the Lord. My condolence to many who would continue to miss you like a sister.

  97. 97 Rajesh Sapkkota
    February 12, 2009 at 02:12

    No one has right to take anyone’s life even the oneself. Because life is something different than physical body.

  98. February 12, 2009 at 03:48

    Hello, Human Beings must be given the RIGHTS to choose, must be given the RIGHTS to have different options under different diffcult situation that they are now facing. Rather than having a 1 size fit all policy while others suffer in silence. 1)Different Interest group they are there is serve their own existence 2)Religious group cares only for God Laws total obedience is more important than compassion. 3)Politicians Groups are only for the Big Picture=making their jobs easier which they call=unpopular decision, or score political points which interest group is leading in numbers. 4)Media Groups have to ratings to follows to please their sponors for salaries. 5)Artists they promote this way or that way often shed crocodile tears pretending to care, especially when it comes to camera kissing babies doing charity works. Rights to die is a private matter, how an individuals see fits or how their family decides. What can you if you are born into a country that don’t believe in absolute zero welfare system? Who going pay the medical bills? Let us not be impose or dictate by different interest groups. The RIGHTS to have many options

  99. February 12, 2009 at 04:55

    Hello, Why we should be careful and try not to be taken for a fool? Back then, the Right to die was outright wrong as Govt. took the Moral High Ground. Now it completely change, we coin out a new term assistance programme for better planning life after death. Terms that was not even mention are Right to die, Assistance Suicide, Euthanasia. Well, the Budget is shrinking, its a more competitive world, and we face a ever increasing Ageing population back up with declining birth rates. Can we said? Our Govt. flip-flop? Maybe that is too strong of a word. Benefits of a doubt they did not have enough information to make a wise decision back then. So, can we call that Changing Gears Policy? From Drive-Gear they switch talk to Rservse Gear? (that is what happen when you meet a Big Ego Person that change gears all the time, he wants to win an arguement all the time) you get confused

  100. 100 Michael Hirsh
    February 12, 2009 at 07:19

    I co-write Michael Schiavo’s book, “Terri-The Truth,” which was a NY Times best seller. Listening to the program, I note that the Schindler family members are still misstating facts about Terri’s death. She was not in a “minimally conscious state,” she was in a persistent vegetative state. The autopsy determined without contradiction that her brain had atrophied to less than half the size of a normal brain. She had no hope of recovery, and contrary to what the Schindler family said–and continues to say to the media–she was unable to see, unable to hear, and unable to communicate, and that was never going to change for the better.

    Without a living will, it was up to her husband as her next of kin to determine her future, and with the full approval of the state and federal courts, all the way up to the US Supreme Court, Michael Schiavo did the only proper thing AFTER CARING FOR HER IN THAT STATE FOR MORE THAN A DOZEN YEARS, he let her go peacefully. If anyone doubts that he provided the best possible care for Terri, consider that in all the time she was in nursing home and hospice care, she never had a single bedsore. If you don’t think that’s an achievement, you need to talk to people who are familiar with the problems of long term care of patients like Terri.

    If you’re going to do another program on this topic, you should ask Michael Schiavo to be a guest so he can refute the nonsense being peddled to you and your listeners by the Schindler family’s self-identified friends. He’ll also be able to refute, point by point, the nonsense that was contained in the letter Terri’s father sent to the father of Eluana Englaro in Italy. Mr. Schindler was not present at Terri’s death, and he is alleging circumstances he could not personally testify to.

  101. 101 Jeremiah Chigozie
    February 12, 2009 at 07:23

    It’s a pity !Poor Eluana !!.
    What a pity that Scientists in your time are only able to coma through feeding pipes. For so many years these same Failures called Scientist ( and Doctors) had all the time in the world to become heros themselves, but they only followed routine: no doubt that even the feeding pipe was not invented by the current generation of Doctors and Scientist. The Church and the many who rightly termed your ( poor Eluana’s ) death Murder are right in that the believe in Miracle would have been facillitated by Scientific Breakthroughs. May your beautiful Body and gentle soul find rest @ the bossom of the Lord. My condolence to many who would continue to miss you

  102. 102 nsc
    February 12, 2009 at 09:00

    @ STEVE….
    dude u need to get a bit more sensitive to other people.and also STOP being so judgemental!! its easy to sit back and comment on how the father murdered the girl or how the girl could not have spoken about it to her father. as an indian, i at 15 had once remarked to my father, while watchin a movie of this sort, that god forbid if i was in theis state, after a while, if there was no hope i would NEVER want to live this way!!! and i was 15..so u cant say what conversation could have taken place. of course its another thing that MAYBE u wont have spoken something like this at 21…u see it differs intellectually from people to people! and u obviously dnt fit in with “our”category of people who have intelligent discussions at an early age….

    i am truly sorry for the loss for this family! they did it long enough and it must have been very tough for them to take this decision. i have a daughter..and if she falls and scrapes her knee, my husband heart tears out!! i can only imagine what this father went thru…
    the church and other should try and divert their attention to more pressing issues like poverty…etc. also the couples offlately in the news for killing their children and being so cruel towards them…why dont they do something for such cases…
    let people make these decision peacefully! none of us know what went on and what the family had to do..so pls! lets NOT BE JUDGEMENTAL!!! PLEASE….

  103. February 12, 2009 at 09:50

    My arguements in this connection are that,
    all laws and regulations are framed for safety of life,
    including safety of animals life.

    Suicide is also crime in the eye of law,state grante no permission to anyone kill himself.

    Murder is also henious crime in the eyes of law no one is allowed to take life of any other person.

    The doctors’s plea taken in Eluana Englaro case is unacceptable,absolutely unacceptable,they had made a serious mistake by removing ”Feed tubes”after that she was passed away.

    What is the duty of a doctor,to save life,make a tireless efforts to save life the patient,the words exhaustion and frustration must not be in dictionary of a doctor in regard to treatment.

    Eluana Englaro was alive before removing the feedtubes,
    doctors had no right to take decision in favoure death ,
    so Eluana englaro was killed ,she was murdered ,doctors attributed to the decision should admitte their responsubility.

  104. 104 steve
    February 12, 2009 at 12:47

    @ Bruce
    Then I guess if you kill someone while they are sleeping, it’s not murder because they aren’t alive according to your logic. So long as someone isn’t decomposing, without the aid of preservatives, they are not dead. If they are breathing, and having blood going through their veins, they are alive. Do you think plants are not alive? What are tehy then Non life cells?

  105. 105 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    February 12, 2009 at 14:40

    @ Joanne (Boston Legal),

    There is an implication, if even indirectly, in what you said above for my earlier post, so I am directing my comments at you, in part because I am completely agreed with your point about the right to live, with dignity. The same, I imagine, works in the case of death. What my concerns are, though, are less about determining who should live how and more whether we are always certain if the trials about which you speak (inability to control BM, etc.) almost always means the end of one’s life.

    I remember a story on the BBC over a year ago, about an Austrian woman, who faced with the same option of denying her husband the right to live and choose to forego it. He recovered. I recall the emotion and joy she felt in narrating her story and the first time her husband spoke to her after waking out of his coma. (Even I got caught up in her joy and cried while listening on my way to work that morning.)

    As you might imagine, this is not the case for everybody. However, its possibilities would suggest that there is reason to pause and think more carefully about the gravity of such decisions. That is all I am saying. I am surely not suggesting that we either all need to believe in God, or the idea of God to which I subscribe or even that, the right to die is not, itself, part of the right to live.

    In fact, like many Eastern cultures, specifically in parts of Africa, death is a continuation of life’s journey. How one chooses to live is very implicated in the decisions made about death, also. My cautionary tale is simply that how we defend rights and liberties must take a very serious account of these realities. It is entirely up to us to choose, thereafter, having considered the ramifications of our actions.

  106. February 12, 2009 at 15:26

    I have a living will will states that if I am ever in a coma, please allow me to die with dignity.

  107. 107 Peter
    February 12, 2009 at 15:49

    People arguing that medical treatment should never be stopped seem to think that the world’s resources are infinite and painful choices can always be avoided.

    We could ALL be attached to life support machines when we die (just in case we come back to life), but we are not. Is it not better to to spend the money on preventing children dying from disease and starvation in Africa ?

    Similary, we do not spend infinite amounts of money to prevent people dying in cars, becayse we recognize, and are willing to accept, that there are tradeoffs.

    Saying that life has an infinite value and should always be preserved sounds a noble philosophy but is rather meaningless in the the light of the tradeoffs that we must always make in life.

  108. 108 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    February 12, 2009 at 16:33

    @ Peter,

    I am not so sure that the issue is (always) that medical treatment should never be stopped, in the case of those who find themselves in such situations. Rather, it is the question of choice which has ultimate say in the discussion. From the case of the Italian woman above, it seems to me that her parents are/ were called on to make this very important decision. Surely, it would not hurt to consider carefully before deciding. After all, this decision is final and no matter how ‘humane’ will have consequences for those left in its wake, in particular the ones who had to make the decision. Issues of choices/ rights and conscience can be such complicated matters when real information is absent but obviously needed.

  109. 109 Zainab from Iraq
    February 12, 2009 at 17:09

    Since one has no right in his coming to life, then he has no right in his death.
    The one who gives life is the only one who has the right to take it.

  110. 110 baaroo
    February 13, 2009 at 03:19

    I find it odd that the choice of one woman and her family cause such a stir among politicians. I believe the family knows best the wishes of this woman and since we have “freedom” of choice, then why not let them choose. Give the politicians a chance to prove themselves, what about the other people who are dying daily? Since she is already dead, then that is gone but there are tens of thousands more who are dying and they can do something about it to preserve life; Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Sudan, lets see them preserve life. If they want to stay just at home, then it is important for everyone to take vitamins daily, or at least be afforded adequate nutrition, let us see them preserve life here.

  111. 111 Ricardo
    February 13, 2009 at 14:37

    Right to die? Put it like this:

    Is there an obligation to live in pain or complete unconsciousness? With whom do you have this obligation? With those who are not in this situation and call for you to stay “alive”?

  112. 112 Jim Newman
    February 13, 2009 at 17:18

    Hello again
    Keeping people alive who are better dead and massacring those who want to live seems to be a very human paradox.

  113. 113 ras ogbu
    February 13, 2009 at 20:04

    I believe that in life people inevitably reach the point where they have to make a critical decision. For me, someone that has been on tubes for the past seventeen years and particularly in a coma has already conclusively exhausted every means of hope of existence. There is nothing wrong with the father taking that decision to let his daughter die in peace. Let the Church rant; let the Prime Minister shout: it is not their call.

  114. 114 Steve
    February 13, 2009 at 21:27

    @ Jim

    Who determines who is “better off dead”? Would you like someone to make that determination for you one day?

  115. 115 Caballaria
    February 14, 2009 at 04:25

    A few points:

    1 – People miss completely the point when they say “this person was never going to wake up anyway”. A person in a vegetative state is not “dead”. These people have brain activity, otherwise they would be braindead, which is different from being in a vegetative state. These person are alive, have thoughts, sometimes can see and hear. They’re living their life right now. You don’t kill people with a disability just because they’re not going to recover.

    2 – In any case you can never rule out a recovery. Not even after many decades. That’s why scientists stopped using the expression “permanent vegetative state”, instead they use “persistent”.

    3 – Eluana Englaro never left a written statement. We don’t know if she would have agreed to go. To kill her only on the basis of what her father says, is a creepy legal precedent. It means anyone can kill a close relative in a vegetative state, just by lying about what the person would have wanted.

    4 – Eluana Englaro was in perfect health apart from the brain damage. She wasn’t going to die from any disease. She didn’t need any “life support”, only basic care such as food and clothing, and having her limbs moved up and down to keep them strong.

    5 – Eluana Englaro was being taken care of by nuns, not by her family. The nuns loved her and disagreed with killing her.

    6 – Eluana Englaro has been dehydratated to death. An extremely painful way to go. We can’t rule out that she was able to feel the pain. This is enough reason to oppose this killing.

    7 – It’s nonsense to blame church and state for interfering in a “private” matter. Mr Englaro is the first one who doesn’t want to keep it private. He wants to set a public precedent for euthanasia. If you had followed the story from here in Italy, you’d know this.

  116. 116 Shakhoor Rehman
    February 14, 2009 at 13:39

    Everyone has the right to live for as long as it is possible for medical science to maintain them. “Pulling the plug” on anyone is unacceptable unless it is the rational wish of the person concerned. It is also legitimate to ask why in the 21st Century the money spent on research and development into finding cures to the multiple, killer illnesses that afflict humanity is still risibly small.

  117. February 14, 2009 at 18:30

    I’m 26. I’ve been living on my own since I was 16. Starting then, I have made it abundantly clear what I do and do not want. My uncle and I have had a number of conversations, and for this reason, executors of each others estates (not that we have much, but to avoid any questions and disputes) and POAs because we are the ones in our family that will be able to separate OUR emotions from THE OTHER’S wishes.

    I hate the idea of any members of my family having an obligation to visit me if I am not there.” I would be holding them back from life, and they deserve to move on.

    I want people to celebrate my life, not mourn my death.

  118. 118 Richard Thompson
    February 15, 2009 at 12:22

    ummm, the bottom line here folks is quality verses quantity. For anyone who has ever endured this situation, they know how horrible it
    truly is. For those of you who have not – you’re fortunate. There would
    be no way any family member of mine would be faced with a long, drawn out process. Not only is it not fair to the victim, but the toll upon
    loved ones is beyond description. How would I know this without having
    to experiance this within my own family? I have been a critical care
    nurse for more than 15 years, and have seen my share. The people
    who realize the quality vs quantity issue generally, if applicable, will
    donate the organs of their loved one so as life may hopefully continue
    elsewhere. This is a true gift molded from tragedy, and may be a means for family healing knowing that multiple people have been helped.

  119. 119 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    February 15, 2009 at 16:27

    Great points, Caballaria!
    Timely intervention, especially on your last point about the Church and State. It is a very bad thing to be religious these days, I have come to discover, especially in such matters. Still, I do believe that where these difficult decisions are to be taken all the facts of the situation are to be considered. As I noted at the top, it seems that ‘humane’ only applies where we do not see the person suffering the pain of our actions. That is a little too convenient, if you ask me; that is, compared to the implied state of ‘inhumane’ deaths which are, I presume, akin to being mowed down in the streets!…The precedent is, indeed, interesting and will set up an interesting base from which we will all move next time something like this happens!

  120. 120 Pirabee
    February 17, 2009 at 12:59

    I just get the feeling – forgive me – that the world is in a mighty haste to break all the rules of God.Everything to do with morality,sexuality,preservation of life etc are being hacked merrily down.This hasn’t much to do with wanting to end the pain of this pretty girl: its more to do with a world going the other way in a haste.When the call to entrench gayness finally stands,then will we proceed to allowing sex between siblings and then parents and their kids and then between consenting men/women and animals and then …

    It will only get gorier. Just you watch.

    As for euthanasia,well, that’ll be child’s play.We will set up shops where it can be done by any instrument of your choice:by gunshot to the back of the head,overdose of morphine,rape even and a thousand other ways that the morbid human mind will not tire to invent.

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