Italian referendum focuses on legalizing assisted suicide for people with disabilities

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Italian assisted suicide campaigners

The Italian assisted suicide lobby, the Luca Coscioni Association, announced on August 16 that it had collected at least 500,000 signatures, enough to establish an assisted suicide referendum. Since then, they announced that they have another 250,000 online signatures in support of the referendum.

The case that has been exploited to generate support for the referendum is that of a quadriplegic man, who asked doctors to end his life based on becoming paralyzed in a car accident ten years ago.

According to an article by Hannah Roberts in the Politico

Campaigners launched a petition for a referendum after the 43-year-old man with a spinal-injury, identified as Mario, last April, won a landmark case to force the local health authority to carry out an assessment to determine if Mario is incurably ill and lucid. So far the health service has not carried out the order.

As much as the assisted suicide referendum is concerning to all, the Italian disability community is directly affected since every precedent regarding Italian assisted suicide cases concerned persons with disabilities.

For instance, in December 2019,  a Milan court acquitted Italian assisted suicide activist, Marco Cappato, in the assisted suicide death of Fabiano Antoniani (known as DJ Fabo), who died in February 2017. Antoniani, who became disabled, died at the Dignitas assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland.

In July 2020 an Italian court acquitted assisted suicide activists Marco Cappato and Mina Welby in the assisted suicide death of Davide Trentini in the April 2017 Dignitas assisted suicide clinic death. Trentini was also a person with a disability.

Cappato and Welby, who are leaders of the Luca Coscioni Association, turned themselves into Italian authorities the day after Trentini died by assisted suicide in order to challenge the law.

Clearly the assisted suicide lobby in Italy has focused on legalizing assisted suicide for people with disabilities. 

Editor’s note. This appeared at Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.