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Vatican newspaper runs article supporting France’s ‘stealth euthanasia’ bill

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ROME, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – With the passage of a bill by the French National Assembly that establishes a “right” to “continuous deep sedation until death,” while defining nutrition and hydration as "treatment" that can be withdrawn, the reaction of the official Catholic news organs are showing a deep rift in the Church over euthanasia.

While activists in France and abroad have condemned the law as euthanasia in everything but name, L’Osservatore Romano, the quasi official newspaper of the Vatican, has given the bill a stamp of approval. The French National Assembly approved the measure 436 to 34 on March 17 and is expected to be passed in the Senate by the summer.

Alex Schadenberg, the head of an international group of anti-euthanasia activists, told LifeSiteNews that it is not correct to say, as many mainstream media outlets have, that the new law legalizes the ethical use of sedation for people who are in intractable pain, “because that is ethical and permitted already.”

“The proper use of sedation is for palliative reasons only, and of course, France did not need a bill to legalize what was legal and ethical already,” Schadenberg said. “The French law permits people to request to be sedated, in a similar manner to euthanasia. The French law therefore permits the abuse of sedation.”

But Dr. Ferdinando Cancelli, an expert in palliative care and a bioethicist who writes regularly for L’Osservatore Romano, said that the French law is “far from a perspective of euthanasia.”

“Deep sedation,” Cancelli wrote, “still remains a tool that never shortens the life of the patient but soothes pain when it is intolerable.” He added that the “controversies” surrounding the passage of the bill have been “decidedly counterproductive and often superficial.”

“In the face of powerful pressures to shorten the lives of seriously ill patients the response of the law has been disappointing for those who thought it was time to introduce a right to die. 

“Lawmakers here [in France] have looked at reality with clarity and courage and, after careful reflection, have drafted a text that does not upset the spirit of one of the most advanced laws on the subject of end of life, a law that has some hope of holding up in the face of pressure for euthanasia because it was made ​​by those who know the subject.”

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At the same time, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, Avvenire, have sharply criticized the bill, calling it “French euthanasia,” and echoing the objections of anti-euthanasia activists that the notion of “deep sedation” is simply another form of stealth euthanasia.

“If the practice becomes widespread,” Avvenire said, “the new option is likely to increasingly deter the development of palliative care, which in the French medical world today remains largely unequipped, as shown by the latest reports.”

Avvenire condemned “ambiguities of the draft” that have “pushed the associations for the promotion of life to denounce the introduction of a ‘euthanasia in disguise.’”

It is not the first time the editors of the Vatican newspaper have taken a position opposed to the pro-life movement. Perhaps the most notable moment was in 2009 when the former Bishop of Recife, Brazil, publicly complained that the paper had refused to allow him to publish an op-ed defending his choice to declare the excommunication of a group of abortionists in his diocese.

The notorious Recife Affair, including the lead role played by L’Osservatore Romano, still rankles pro-life advocates who say there has never been a clear retraction of an article by the then-head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, defending the abortion of unborn twins of a young rape victim.

Another black mark that has never been erased by a retraction, correction, or apology came in an American interview with the paper’s editor, Gian Maria Vian, who asserted that US President Barack Obama, arguably the most energetically pro-abortion president in US history, was merely “pro-choice.”

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