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Lay funeral for Italian who fought for his right to die to be held Sunday

Lay funeral for Italian who fought for his right to die to be held Sunday

A lay funeral for a paralyzed Italian man who died by assisted death will be held Sunday after the Roman Catholic Church denied him a religious ceremony.
The lay funeral for Piergiorgio Welby will be held in the morning in a Rome piazza, in front of the parish church where the family had originally hoped to hold the ceremony, said the Radical Party, which had championed Welby's right-to-die-campaign.
Welby had expressed the wish to be cremated, the party said Saturday.
Welby, 60, died Wednesday night after a doctor disconnected his respirator, fulfilling his wish. Anti-euthanasia campaigners and some conservative politicians have described Welby's death as murder.
But the doctor who pulled the plug, Mario Riccio, as well as Welby's family have described it as suspension of therapy, saying the decision conformed to a patient's right to refuse treatment.
The Roman Catholic Church said Friday that it had decided to deny a religious funeral for Welby because his "will to end his life was known _ as it had been repeated and publicly affirmed _ in contrast to Catholic doctrine."
The Vatican _ which has considerable influence in this country _ vehemently opposes euthanasia, insisting that life must be safeguarded from its beginning to its "natural" end.
Welby, who was terminally ill with the degenerative disease muscular dystrophy, was confined to a bed and could not breathe, eat or speak on his own. He had long campaigned for his right to die, including writing a book, called "Let Me Die," and pleading with Italy's president.
Rome prosecutors have begun investigating Welby's death and have questioned as a witness Riccio, the doctor who sedated Welby and disconnected his respirator.
The case has highlighted an apparent contradiction in Italian law: Patients have a constitutional right to refuse treatment, but the Italian medical code requires doctors keep a patient alive.
It has also split the political world and reignited a debate on euthanasia, which is forbidden in Italy.
Premier Romano Prodi said the debate would continue, and vowed his center-left government would "reflect deeply on this case."


Updated : 2021-10-21 07:28 GMT+08:00