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Italian woman moved to hospital where she can die

Associated Press

ROME — A woman at the center of Italy’s right-to-die debate was transferred Tuesday to a hospital where she is to be allowed to die after 17 years in a vegetative state.

Eluana Englaro was moved to the northeastern city of Udine overnight, said family lawyer Vittorio Angiolini.

A small crowd of anti-euthanasia activists gathered outside the clinic in Lecco, where she had been cared for, seeking to prevent the ambulance from leaving, TV footage showed. Some were shouting "Eluana, Wake Up!"

Englaro has been in a vegetative state since a car accident in 1992, when she was 20. Her father has led a protracted court battle to disconnect her feeding tube, insisting it was her wish.

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An Italian court in the summer granted his request, setting off a political storm in the Roman Catholic country.

Her father then sought to have her removed from the Catholic clinic in Lecco to Udine, in the region where the family is from. But the government issued a decree last month telling state hospitals that they must guarantee care for people in vegetative states, leading at least one hospital in Udine to refuse to take Englaro.

She was moved overnight to La Quiete, a private clinic.

Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi said the government is looking into the situation.

Italy does not allow euthanasia. Patients have a right to refuse treatment but there is no law that allows them to give advance directions on what treatment they wish to receive if they become unconscious.

The case has provoked the strong reaction of the Vatican, which is opposed to euthanasia. Pope Benedict XVI said this weekend that euthanasia is a "false solution" to suffering.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the pope’s health minister, told La Repubblica that removing Englaro’s feeding tube "is tantamount to an abominable assassination and the church will always say that out loud."

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