By Hilary White

TURIN, Italy, January 21, 2009 ( – The governor of Piedmont, one of the 20 regions of Italy, has said that should Eluana Englaro’s family choose to send her to a clinic there, there would be no impediment to their plans to kill her by dehydration in accordance with a decision by the Italian high court. This offer immediately follows the announcement of the withdrawal of a similar offer to help kill Eluana by a clinic in the city of Undine.

Piedmont governor Mercedes Bresso said “if it were asked,” the region would make a facility available to Beppino Englaro, Eluana’s father, to carry out the sentence of the courts.

“There would not be a problem. It’s right to worry about killing people who are no longer of use, but in this case there has been a long procedure and the court has made a decision which took all the issues into account,” said Bresso.

Italy’s highest appeals court ruled in November in favour of Beppino Englaro’s desire to end his daughter’s life by removing her food and hydration tube. Eluana Englaro, 38, who is often referred to in the media as the “Italian Terri Schiavo,” has been in a state of diminished consciousness since a car accident in 1992. Health-care providers in the Lombardy region, where Eluana is being cared for, and the nuns who operate the care home in Lecco where she lives, have refused to comply with the court’s ruling.

At the same time, Managing Director Claudio Ricocbon of the Friulian care home in Undine said in a statement that his previous offer to allow the sentence to be carried out in his clinic must be withdrawn. Ricocbon said that the ongoing legal wrangling over the case, including possible lawsuits, put his care home at too much financial risk.

The statement said that a close examination of the “maze of laws” surrounding the case had led to the decision to withdraw the offer in order to protect the clinic and its 300 employees.

“Faced with this particular, concrete future,” Ricocbon said, the care home was therefore obliged to withdraw its “offer of care which had as its only aim the logistic support necessary for Mr. Beppino Englaro to carry out the wishes of his daughter.”

In December, Eluana was about to be transferred to the Friulian clinic, where a team of “external volunteers” was ready to carry out the sentence, when Health Minister Maurizio Sacconi issued a statement that the removal of feeding tubes from disabled patients was “illegal.” The transfer was halted and Eluana remains in the care of the nuns in Lecco.

The case of Eluana Englaro continues to make headlines and divide public opinion in Italy. In November, the Court of Cassation, Italy’s highest appeals court in Rome, ruled that Eluana could be dehydrated to death. Pro-life advocates fear that should the authorities allow Eluana to be killed the action would put at risk the lives of hundreds of other vulnerable patients and usher in legalised euthanasia by the ‘back door’ of court decisions.

Rome public prosecutor’s office has sent the case to the Ministers’ Tribunal, a special organ dealing exclusively with allegations of crimes committed by ministers, who will decide whether it should go ahead.

The Cassation Court’s deputy prosecutor general, Marcello Matera, has argued that Health Minister Sacconi’s guideline about the illegality of removing a patient’s feeding tube does not apply to Eluana’s case and added that it would be ‘‘theoretically possible’’ to ask the police to see that the court sentence is carried out

Read related coverage:

700 Italian Doctors ask that Eluana’s Life be Spared


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