Italy’s constitutional court has given a green light to euthanasia and assisted suicide when a person is believed to be suffering from an irreversible condition and is in “intolerable” pain.
The landmark decision stated that anyone who helps such a patient to kill themselves should not be punished.
The judges considered the case of Marco Cappato, an assisted suicide activist who was accused of helping a 40-year-old man take his own life in Switzerland in 2017.
‘Culture of death’
Cappato, who is currently on trial in Milan, was facing up to twelve years in prison for “instigating or assisting suicide”, but is now likely to be acquitted.
Italy’s conference of Roman Catholic bishops said the judgment violated the sanctity of life, and banded it a “grave decision”.
Cardinal Giovanni Becciu said the ruling would lead vulnerable people to feel that asking for their life to be ended is a dignified choice.
Secretary General Stefano Russo said: “Doctors exist to care for lives, not to interrupt them. We are creating the preconditions for a culture of death in which society loses the light of reason.”