Will medically-assisted suicide mean the rebirth of (clinical) ethics committees in Italy?

Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
The Italian Constitutional Court has held that, in certain specific circumstances, prosecution for assisted suicide, regulated by Article 580 of the Criminal Code, is not compatible with the Constitution. The circumstances in question relate to individuals who are being kept alive by life-sustaining treatments, who are fully capable of taking free, informed decisions and are suffering from irreversible conditions that are a source of intolerable physical or mental suffering. The Court has held that the Ethics Committees must assess a request for assisted suicide made by an individual meeting these conditions. The decision requires the identification of the Ethics Committee authorised to issue authorisation in such cases and a guarantee that these Ethics Committees are able to deal with this type of issue. The Court’s decision is an important opportunity to establish and promote clinical Ethics Committees, which are not nationally regulated in Italy and exist in very small numbers in only a few parts of the country.

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