An Italian man, paralyzed 12 years ago in a traffic accident, died on Thursday in Italy’s first case of assisted suicide, according to an association that has long campaigned for legal euthanasia.
Federico Carboni, 44, died with his family at his bedside after administrating the lethal medicines himself via a specially designed machine.
“I don’t deny that I regret saying goodbye to life,” he was quoted as saying by the Luca Coscioni Association, which helped him overcome resistance from courts and health authorities.
“I did everything I could to live as best as I could and try to make the most of my disability, but I am now at the end of my tether, both mentally and physically,” Carboni said.
Italy’s Constitutional Court opened the way for assisted suicide in 2019, in the face of fierce opposition from conservative parties and the Roman Catholic Church, but said local health authorities had to review and approve each request.
Some patients seeking authorisation have accused the authorities of deliberately dragging their feet.
Carboni finally obtained permission to receive the lethal medicines last November, after winning two court cases and overcoming an initial refusal by health officials.
In their final ruling, an ethics panel said Carboni’s condition met the requirements laid out by the constitutional court, which included a chronic and irreversible pathology causing suffering the person considers intolerable.
His case helped galvanize support for right-to-die advocates, who last year collected more than a million signatures to try to force a referendum that would make euthanasia more accessible.
However, the Constitutional Court rejected the petition, saying a vote on the matter would not sufficiently protect “weak and vulnerable” people.
Highlighting the difficulties patients have in Italy in receiving an assisted suicide, a quadriplegic man opted this month to be placed in deep sedation and suspend all life-sustaining treatments that eventually brought about his death.
Fabio Ridolfi said he had chosen to do this because his health authority had failed to supply him with fatal drugs, even though an ethics committee had validated his suicide request.
“We will continue to fight so that similar obstructionism and violations of the will of the sick are not repeated,” said the Luca Coscioni Association.
Assisted suicide has been legal in neighboring Switzerland since the 1940s, a legal curiosity that has made the country what some call a “death tourism” magnet.
It is also legal in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer. Editing by Mark Heinrich)