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The Englaro Case and Political Manipulation

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.

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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.

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As usual, your coverage of Italian politics is miles above what we can find elsewhere.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 9th, 2009 at 08:31:05 AM EST
Thanks so much!
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Feb 9th, 2009 at 08:35:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to a news dispatch Eluana Englaro has died. The Senate has erupted into a shouting match.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Feb 9th, 2009 at 02:31:51 PM EST
All I can say is that we know the script. The Englaro family sought to be treated with dignity as citizens of a civil state. Justice slowly acknowledged their reasons and rights as then did many professional medical structures that abided by law and court rulings. A very sober citizen, parsimonious in words, Beppe Englaro made simple demands and plain sense questions. Yet his words and his family's wishes were drowned by the din. He asked why should he have to comply to the dictates of a church to which he did not belong. He asked why should a government seek to block a final court ruling. He has asked for silence now in keeping with his character. He wants to be left alone. He has a right to his pain.

There will be masses said for a spanking new saint who never was a Catholic. Primetime teary-eyed candle holders, camera angled from below. Within minutes of the news of her death the Senator Quagliariello- one of those Larnian worms that make up the people of liberty- accused the opposition of murder. The fascist Gasparri insulted the President of the Republic for not having signed an unconstitutional decree "in time to save the poor Eluana." In the days to come, Berlusconi's Larnian worms will monopolize every niche of the news with their obscene accusations and squalid piety. The government will seek to ramrod this bill and others through parliament in the name of Berlusconi's liberty to rule totally, indefinitely, with impunity.

Just as in Orwell's Animal Farm where laws were finally reduced to but one, this one-sentence law that will pass in the days to come in the name of their Saint Eluana, these few lines attack the foundations of civil liberties.

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.

Where here is a person's right to dispose of himself and his body as he wishes? Who then claims rights over my body? Am I mine or the State's? Or worse, do I belong to some sort of fashionable god whose earnest acolytes piously enslave us with their compassionate dictates?

Garibaldi didn't mince words. He described the pope as "a cubic meter of horseshit." It's no wonder he was not allowed to take back Rome.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Feb 9th, 2009 at 05:37:09 PM EST


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