Nutrition and hydration? Si!

Italy’s lower house has passed a bill which makes it illegal to withdraw nutrition and hydration (food and water) from comatose patients in most cases – reported by http://www.bioedge.org/ 15 July 2011.

“The Advance Directives Bill bans euthanasia and assisted suicide and specifies that patients should not be denied food and hydration. Treatment can only be stopped if hydration and nutrition are no longer effective "in giving the patient the nutritional factors necessary for physiological functions of the body,” reported the article.  The legislation "recognizes and protects human life as inviolable" and guarantees the right to life "in the terminal phase of life and in the event that the person is no longer capable of understanding and volition until his death is confirmed,” is read.

It is heartening to see written into this bill that doctors will also be obliged to inform patients that euthanasia is not an option.  The margin for passing the bill in a secret ballot was as follows:  278 yes votes, 205 no votes and 7 abstentions.  

While it is great that the normal right and expectation of being given the basics of life, food and water, when one is very ill or in a comatose state, it is a pathetic state of affairs where what was once considered normal care and mere common sense has now had to be legislated into practice.