Eluana Englaro has been in a coma for 17 years; a high court in Italy ruled last week that doctors could reduce her feeding and allow her to die.
Silvio Berlusconi, after consultation with the Vatican, has issued an emergency decree stating that food and water cannot be suspended for any patient depending upon them, reversing the earlier court ruling…Justifying his campaign to save Englaro’s life, the prime minister added that, physically at least, she was “in the condition to have babies”, a remark described by La Stampa newspaper as “shocking”.
Yes, it is. It is in fact one of the most repellent things I’ve heard in some time. It is (perhaps – I don’t actually know this) physically possible to cause babies to grow inside her and then to remove them after nine months – but so what? What difference does that make to anything? It’s already known that part of her body is still alive, but it’s also known that the part of her that makes her what a person is has been dead for 17 years – so what difference does it make that she could still be used as an incubator? There’s a combination of sexism and morbidity in that thought that makes the blood freeze.
The case has deeply divided Italian society and raised concerns over the influence of the Vatican. Yesterday Pope Benedict indirectly referred to Englaro in a message delivered to mark the World Day of the Sick, stating that society had a duty to defend “the absolute and supreme dignity of every human being” even when “weak and shrouded in the mystery of suffering”.
Oh the blindness of sanctimony. What dignity?! Where is the dignity in being kept around as an animated corpse? Where is the dignity in occupying a bed while having no mind? Where is the dignity in being a mindless brain-dead thoughtless dreamless hopeless lump of flesh? That’s not dignity. And defending that idea is not compassion – it’s a perverted backwards distorted idea of it which actually promotes suffering instead of preventing it.