Today, Tuesday February 10, 2009, the Colosseum in Rome will be lit through the night in mourning for Eluana Englaro, a 37 year old woman who died of starvation yesterday in "the first death sentence in Italy since 1946" (Javier Cardinal Lozano Barragan).
Seventeen years ago Eluana was involved in a car crash which left her incapacitated. Her father, Beppino Englaro, has described her as being in a coma and a "vegetative state", the media have called her "brain dead", but others have stated that she was responsive and that she was not in a coma.
Eluana needed only food and water to keep her alive, she had no artificial life support and was not dying.
Last summer, after a decade long battle, Italy's highest court ruled that Mr. Englaro could have Eluana's feeding tube removed which would cause her to die of dehydration and starvation.
The nuns at the Catholic medical facility where Eluana was being treated refused to remove the tube. Last Tuesday, February 3, Mr. Englaro had Eluana moved to a facility in Udine which had agreed to go through with removing her feeding tube. After almost a week without food and water Eluana died yesterday of cardiac arrest.
Four years ago there was a similar case in the United States when a woman by the name of Terri Schiavo was starved to death upon the request of her husband and against the wishes of her parents and siblings. Terri's brother, Bobby, now travels the country speaking of his sister's death. Where the media described it as peaceful Bobby remembers a sister whose skin was cracked and shriveled from lack of water.
Italy, a country which has led a crusade against capital punishment since 1946, has allowed an innocent woman to be killed in this cruel and inhumane fashion.
The Roman Coloseum has been lit every time a death sentence is pardoned or a country abolishes capital punishment since 1999. Tonight it will be lit in memory of Eluana Englaro. Rest in peace Eluana.