In Italy, MPs adopt the “biological will” law

Publié le 2 May, 2017

In Italy, the Chamber of Deputies has just adopted “biological will” legislation.


The law allows any adult to draft or record a video of anticipated provisions in which he/she specifies his/her end-of-life wishes. These wishes can be revised and revoked.


A terminally ill patient can “refuse any treatment” and the law authorises “‘deep and continuous palliative sedation continuing up to a change in the person’s consciousness’, to the point of death”.


The law obliges doctors to “respect the patient’s wishes” and exempts them “from any criminal liability”. A doctor can refuse to “switch off a life support machine” but must ask a colleague to intervene who will then ensure that the “the patient’s wishes” are carried out.


In the case of an incapacitated person or a child, “the decision will be taken by a legal guardian or closest family members”.


Finally, as therapeutic intervention is prohibited by the law, a patient with a serious, incurable disease with only a short time to live can refuse a tracheotomy and life support machine as well as artificial food and hydration.


The draft bill has yet to receive the approval of senators. No verdict has been reached to date.

La Croix, Anne Le Nir (21/04/2017)

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