(AFP) – Oct 9, 2008
ROME (AFP) — Italy's Constitutional Court rejected an appeal lodged by parliament against a ruling to let doctors stop feeding a woman who has been in a coma for 16 years, media reported Thursday.
Eluana Englaro, 36, has been receiving food and water artificially since January 1992 in a hospital in northern Lecco and her father has been seeking an end to the life support since 1999.
The Roman Catholic Church has however made Englaro a symbol in its campaign against mercy killings and has demanded that she be kept alive.
In July, a Milan appeal court ruled the young woman, who has been in a vegetative state since a road accident, could be removed from life support as it had been proven that her coma was irreversible.
It said that Englaro, when fully conscious, had stated her preference to die rather than being kept alive artificially.
However, Milan prosecutor Maria Antonietta Pezza asked the Supreme Court to strike down the July 9 appeal court ruling. A final decision on that is expected on November 11.
Pezza's intervention meant that hospital staff caring for Englaro could not stop the treatment that has been keeping her alive.
Italy's lower parliamentary chamber debated the case after the July 9 appeal court ruling, with members of the Chamber of Deputies deciding to raise the issue with the Constitutional Court, the country's highest court.
Most deputies argued the appeal court judges had exceeded their authority in their ruling. But the Constitutional Court said the appeal judges had acted within their rights, while noting that parliament has the ability to change the law if it wishes.
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