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Vatican Secretary of State backs position of Catholic hospitals

 (foto: ANSA)

(ANSA) – Rome, December 20 – Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Wednesday said conscientious objection to certain parts of the newly approved living wills law is legitimate. His statement came after several Catholic hospitals in Italy said they might refuse to apply certain parts of the law. “One of the deficiencies of this law is that it does not provide for conscientious objection by doctors, health workers and the Catholic institutions,” added Cardinal Parolin. “I think it is normal that such a position should also exist.” Parolin’s stance was backed by the head of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, who said that conscientious objection was “a right” and “must be recognised not only at an individual level but also at the hospital level”. He said there was a risk of “all Catholic hospitals closing” and said “I don’t think anyone wants that”.
He said the living wills law is not perfect and can be “perfected”.
Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin, a leading Catholic MP, reacted by saying she would “guarantee” that Catholic doctors who disagree with the recent law on living wills will be able to conscientiously object and not apply it. She said she would “soon” meet with doctors from private Catholic medical facilities to make sure they know they can object to the application of advance directives on withdrawing nutrition and hydration from terminal patients, the part of he law Catholics most object to.
The right-to-die Coscioni Association said “Minister Lorenzin must ensure the application of a law of a State she is a minister of.
“The living-will law does not envisage conscientious objection.
“Doctors who choose to go in this direction will be subject to legal action for breaking the law”. Parliament gave final approval to the living wills bill last week after a long battle in Catholic Italy.
The living will, also called a directive to physicians or advance directive, is a document that lets people state their wishes for end-of-life medical care, in case they become unable to communicate their decisions.
It may include their stating they do not wish to be artificially fed and hydrated.