Wed, February 04, 2009
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Doctors to help vegetative woman die

2009-02-04 10:31:22 GMT2009-02-04 18:31:22 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

An Italian woman who has been in a vegetative state since 1992 is transferred to a clinic where doctors will help her to end her life.

An Italian woman, who has been in a vegetative state for 17 years, was transferred to a clinic on Tuesday (February 3) where doctors are willing to assist her to die. Eluana Englaro, who is now 37, has been in a vegetative state at a hospital in northern Italy since a car crash in 1992. The 'La Quiete' clinic in Udine, northern Italy, will assist Eluana as her feeding tubes are disconnected.

SCRIPT:

Anti-euthanasia campaigners protest at the gates to an Italian clinic where a woman in a vegetative state is to be helped to die.

Eluana Englaro, who is now 37, was critically injured in a car crash 17 years ago.

Escorted by her father, Eluana was transferred by ambulance in the early hours of Tuesday.

A small group of protesters tried to block the road shouting: 'Eluana, wake up! They want to kill you!'

The 'La Quiete' clinic in northern Italy will assist Eluana as her feeding tubes are disconnected in a case that has split the country.

Eluana's father Beppino has spent more than a decade battling through the courts to seek an end to his daughter's life.

Last November Italy's top court authorised him to disconnect the feeding tube that kept Eluana alive. This removed the last legal hurdles to the case.

It's the first time a court in predominantly Catholic Italy has allowed the withdrawal of food and water from a comatose patient.

Pro-euthanasia activists hailed the verdict as historic, but political leaders were split over the case, with several Catholic lawmakers criticising it.

Medical experts said it could take up to two weeks for Eluana to die once life support was removed, but insisted she would feel no pain.

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