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‘Deep sedation’ is ‘masked’ euthanasia, warns Catholic academic after death of Italian actress

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

ITALY, January 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In the wake of a high-profile death of an Italian actress and writer earlier this month, Catholic historian Roberto de Mattei is warning that “deep sedation” is a “masked form” of euthanasia, where a doctor deliberately kills a patient.

Media personality Marina Ripa di Meana died at home by deep sedation on January 5 at age 76, but not before a two-and-a-half minute video she produced explaining her decision was broadcast on Italian television. Ripa di Meana, who suffered from cancer for 16 years, did not shy away from speaking about her treatments and afflictions, or appearing in public ravaged by the disease.

Seated beside Ripa di Meana in the video was euthanasia activist and left-wing Democratic Party politician Maria Coscioni, who read out a statement on behalf of the ill woman. 

It was to Coscioni that Ripa di Meana confided when thinking of traveling to Switzerland for assisted suicide, the statement related. Coscioni instead recommended to the actress the “Italian way of palliative treatment through deep sedation.” 

De Mattei called deep sedation a “masked form of assisted suicide” when it is directed toward “euthanizing the sick person.” 

“This is a masked form of assisted suicide, granted by the ‘living will’ legalized in Italy at the end of December, according to which every person of adult age, of sound mind and will, may manifest, their choice of treatment, including the refusal of nutrition and artificial hydration, through the dispositions  in advance of treatment (DAT),” he wrote in an article on Rorate Caeli.

Faithful Christians must not fall into the trap of thinking that “deep sedation” when used for the wrong reason is a moral option. 

Those in the medical field must distinguish between “palliative sedation and euthanasia sedation,” he said.

Palliative sedation is “admissible by Catholic morality, as it is not directed at euthanizing the sick person, but at the suppressing of pain.” Euthanasia sedation, on the other hand, “causes the death of the patient, either directly, through sedative drugs or through the interruption of life-saving measures.”

This kind of sedation, said de Mattei, “is not a temporary therapy to alleviate pain, but a permanent condition, of no return, which is similar to that of an irreversible coma.”

“Those who choose deep sedation perform an act with which they choose to snuff out irrevocably the light of reason and will, to immerse themselves in a deep and definitive sleep, which is difficult to distinguish from death,” he continued. 

“However, if it is not licit to take one’s life, will it be licit to deliberately renounce the exercise of the soul’s faculties, which are an immense good received from God?” he added. 

“The truth is that palliative care nowadays is used as a vehicle for euthanasia, most of all in the countries where it is not legalized, with the pretext of alleviating the suffering of the sick person,” noted de Mattei. 

The historian said that modern hospices have lost the sense of the meaning and purpose of suffering. 

"The Catholic Hospital Orders have alleviated the suffering of humanity over the course of the centuries, but in the hospitals of the so-called  'Incurables,' the dominant concern of the religious who cared for the sick was to prepare them spiritually for death," he said.

"In modern 'hospices,' similar often to 'comfort centers' for the dying, the supreme concern is that of 'not making them suffer,' forgetting the expiable and redemptive value of suffering, which is not an injury to human dignity, but the ineliminable consequence of original sin."

"There is no greater dignity than that of a man who faces with courage and patience the suffering and death in the likeness of Our Lord, Who, as the Gospel narrates, after having tasted the wine mixed with gall  offered to Him before the crucifixion to lessen His sufferings, refuses to drink it (Matthew, 27, 34), because He wanted to suffer with full awareness, thus fulfilling what He had said to Peter at the time of His arrest: 'The chalice which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?' (John 18, v,11)," he said.

Read de Mattei’s article here.

Related:

Pope Francis credited with helping euthanasia law pass in Italy

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