by de Gondi
Mon Feb 9th, 2009 at 07:43:41 AM EST
The article (posted in today's Salon, thanks to Fran) does not explain what the "constitutional row" is all about. In fact it is misleading as it only discusses the fact that President Napolitano did not sign a government decree that he judged unconstitutional and not in compliance with Article 77 of the Constitution which states that decrees may be adopted only in extraordinary cases of necessity and urgency. It's perfectly within his powers since a government cannot emit a decree to overturn a Supreme Court sentence. It would be tantamount to evoking a "constitutional row" if the President of the U.S. vetoed a bill.
The row is over Berlusconi and his government that use the pretext of the Englaro case to verbally assault the President and the Constitution. Berlusconi forced his ministers to take a unanimous decision to make a three line decree. When Napolitano declined to sign it, Berlusconi attacked him alleging that the president is obliged to sign it, which is categorically false, a deliberate public misrepresentation of the division of powers enshrined in the Constitution. Berlusconi then attacked the Constitution declaring that it was written by philo-Soviet ideologues and that he would do away with it for that. His rant was that the present Constitution does not allow him to govern. Apparently- at this point- one may conclude that he hasn't the ability since he controls all the media, the executive and a grovelling rubberstamp parliament.
Promoted by Colman
The public backlash brought people out on the streets Friday evening. Polls show Berlusconi's approval in the case at 32% while 61% agree with the Englaro family and 55% with President Napolitano.
The next day (Saturday 7 Feb) Berlusconi ate his words and once again accused the opposition of misrepresenting what he had said. I suppose digital recordings also defy the laws of physics by systematically misrepresenting Berlusconi's words. Berlusconi has used the Englaro case to force discredit on institutions and the Constitution with the unconditional backing of the Vatican State. At the same time he seeks to distract public opinion from his disastrous incompetence in confronting the economic crisis and his war against the judiciary, the only branch of government still fairly independent despite a 14 year war of attrition.
In "Catholic" Italy over 60% disapprove of the Vatican's meddling in this case. This of course doesn't matter so long as it's not on prime time.
As for Senate president Renato Schifani, one of Berlusconi's interchangeable toilet mats, he actually sought to discuss the bill in the Senate on Monday in the hope to see the bill made into law within three days. Gianfranco Fini however has scheduled discussion on Tuesday evening in the Chamber of Deputies. In the meantime the government is resorting to all possible means to intimidate if not outright seize the clinic where Eluana is recovered. Considering the incredible white mafia sanitation scandals in which the Berlusconi's party members, his allies and the Vatican are implicated, it's all the more macabre.
Berlusconi also made crass remarks against Mr. Englaro accusing him of wanting to get rid of an inconvenient situation. He further remarked that Eluana could bear children and has a menstrual cycle. One is reminded of Almodovar's haunting film Talk to Her , were it not for Berlusconi's sheer vulgarity.
Here's the bill. Three lines.
"In attesa dell'approvazione della completa e organica disciplina legislativa sul fine vita alimentazione e idratazione in quanto forme di sostegno vitale e fisologicamente finalizzate ad alleviare le sofferenze, non possono in alcun caso essere sospese da chi assiste soggetti non in grado di provvedere a se stessi".
Until the approval of a complete and organic law disciplining life's end, nutrition and hydration as forms of vital support and physiologically finalized to alleviate suffering, can in no way be suspended by persons assisting individuals who are incapacitated to provide for themselves.
The controversy of this bill is in the wording "as forms of vital support and physiologically finalized to alleviate suffering." This imposes the Vatican thesis that enteral nutrition is basic care rather than medical therapy and therefore cannot be refused by a patient. It contrasts with all Western medical conclusions that consider it a human right to refuse not only medical treatment but also nutrition. For a full treatment of the argument see ESPEN guidelines on artificial enteral nutrition.
While the Church thunders from pulpits in deserted churches throughout Italy against this "murder" or "execution" it is worth mentioning in conclusion that there is overriding evidence that John Paul II was therefore also "murdered." Two lengthy articles were published by the quarterly review Micromega in 2007-2008 by the anaesthetist professor Lina Pavanelli based on all official documents, testimonies and news articles. Despite anecdotal and pious indignation by sundry prelates or Fox anchormen, the hospital records concerning his final months show that he was deprived of artificial nutrition to the point of no return. Given that Wojtyla was certainly informed of his rights it appears likely he willingly refused to be fed after a tracheotomy. In the following two months he lost between 15 and 19 kilos of weight and succombed. Either the medical team accepted his wishes or there was a grave act of omission. The former case is considered eutanasia by church doctrine.
I logged on some information as this confrontation unfolded in Friday's open thread.
This is a slightly modified version of my comment this morning in the Salon.