Thanks, in part, to the presence of the Roman Catholic Church, Italy has remained one of the least secularized countries in the European Union. At present, however, the Italian government, led by Prime Minister Romano Prodi, seems hellbent on irking the Catholic Church with its legislative initiatives, including its attempt to legalize homosexual unions and euthanasia, begun in early 2007.
An Italian anesthesiologist, Dr. Mario Riccio, has served as a catalyst for the recent push for legalized euthanasia: On December 20, 2006, he “helped” 61-year-old Piergiorgio Welby, a hippie poet and activist suffering from advanced muscular dystrophy, to die.
Some commentators drew parallels between Terri Schiavo and Welby, but there is a fundamental difference: Mrs. Schiavo did not ask to be euthanized, whereas Mr. Welby did call for the plug to be pulled, and the Italian doctor acted on Welby’s explicit request.
The method is always the same: A pathetic case is identified by the media, who profile it as much as they can to stir emotion so that the public will put pressure on legislators to repeal the old law and replace it with a new one. This is exactly what happened in Italy with divorce (1972) and abortion (1978). Urged on by the media, a fretful and outraged public demanded new laws to protect people who found themselves in exceptional and desperate situations. Then, after...