Italy had its own version of the Terry Schiavo case that concluded this year.
The case involved a woman named Eluana Englaro who was involved in a car accident in 1992 when she was 20 years old. Ever since that time, she was in a vegetative state and kept alive by a feeding tube.
Eluana's father, Beppino, fought for nearly a decade to have his daughter's tube removed stating that it would be more dignified for Eluana to die rather than live in the state she was in.
Simultaneously, Beppino is caring for his wife and Eluana's mother, Saturna, who is suffering from cancer. He also pointed out that before the crash, his daughter visited a friend who was in a coma and kept alive artificially. Beppino said his daughter told him she didn't want the same thing to happen to her.
Yet Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tried to inject himself into the affair, decreeing the feeding tube to be kept in place.
Berlusconi stated: I will do everything I can to save her life. Even though Eluana had been in her present state for the past 17 years and, according to doctors, showed no signs of recovery.
Despite euthanasia being outlawed in Italy, patients and their legal guardians have the right to refuse treatment. After clearing all of the legal steps necessary to make this decision, until recently, Beppino had yet to find a clinic willing to take the feeding tube out.
In the case of Berlusconi's decree, it would not have been law since Italy's President refused to sign it. Therefore, the country's parliament had to enact a new one. In Italy if the President refuses to sign a bill, parliament can take it up again and enact a Prime Minister's decree into law without the President's consent.
According to CNN, Pope Benedict XVI weighed in on this incident too. He told visitors euthanasia is a false solution to suffering. Soon after Benedict's remarks, a top Vatican official was quoted in the Italian media saying, Stop the killer hands.
Fortunately, Italy's parliament failed to pass Berlusconi's decree, and on February of this year Beppino Englaro was able to fulfill his daughter's wishes. He found a private hospital in northern Italy whose doctors agreed to remove his daughter's feeding tubes.
This incident also demonstrates the perverse culture of life religious conservatives, politicians and other so-called pro-life activists claim they support.
In reality, Berlusconi and culturally conservative religions, like the Catholic Church, who oppose policies such as euthanasia, abortion, and stem cell research actually demonstrate contempt for the very lives they claim to value.
If men like Berlusconi and Benedict had their way, individuals with incurable and deadly diseases that involve painful symptoms would be subject to an existence of excruciating pain and agony or exist in a vegetative state possibly incapable of any kind of emotion, memory or thought.
One cannot fathom the depressing and sad-filled periods people, like Beppino Englaro, have to endure seeing their loved one(s) condemned to remain vegetables while in a coma or even an existence of pain and suffering at the hands of terminal illnesses, like cancer or Lou Gehrig's disease.
The positive memories people have of their loved one as a vibrant human being would be crushed.
To prohibit stem cell research would deprive millions of people from leading longer and better lives. Many who suffer from Alzheimers, diabetes and many heart-related ailments who need therapies that can be created from the usage of extracted stem cells from 150-cell embryos to treat illnesses.
If one understands not only the results of implementing policies of religions and like-minded politicians who preach the sanctity of life one can see by their actions in cases like Eluana Englaro and Terry Schiavo that their policies are nothing more than an irrational fraud.
Berlusconi and Benedict's policies would cause massive suffering and death on a large scale. Neither wish to preserve human life in any way and, thus, follow the altruistic notion of sacrifice of the living for the non-living while upholding the Christian ideal of suffering as the highest virtue of a human being's existence.
The two men's immoral ideals should be soundly rejected not just by policy makers but by the general populace too. The actions of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Pope Benedict XVI are not only, as Beppino Englaro observed, an attack on the Englaro family but are also an attack human life itself.
Instead, people should embrace a true culture of life where individuals are free to live their own lives and pursue their own destiny as they choose while, at the same time, rejecting a religious-oriented culture of death and despair.