Italy OKs living wills amid long-running euthanasia debate

Italy’s Senate has given final approval to a law allowing Italians to write living wills and refuse artificial nutrition and hydration, the latest step in Roman Catholic Italy’s long-running debate over euthanasia and when it’s morally appropriate to pull the plug.

The law’s passage Thursday comes as the Vatican itself has taken up the issue of end-of-life care anew, with a series of conferences emphasizing the need for palliative care and reinforcing Catholic doctrine that requires only “ordinary” care be provided to the dying, not “extraordinary” care that extends life at all costs.

In a recent speech taken by Italians as an endorsement of the pending legislation, Pope Francis repeated the church’s opposition to euthanasia but rejected the “therapeutic obstinacy” sometimes practiced by doctors, Catholic and otherwise.

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