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Rome

3,000 amendments to living-wills bill (3)

Opposed by Catholic conservatives

Rome, December 6 - Some 3,005 amendments have been filed to a bill on living wills currently before the Senate, sources said Wednesday. The bill, whose passage depends on the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) upholding a pledge to vote with the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD), is opposed by conservative Catholics across the political spectrum and in particular by junior government partner, the centrist Popular Alternative (AP) party. The M5S last week said it would back the PD's bid to finally pass a bill introducing living wills. PD leader Matteo Renzi said recently the time had come to pass the legislation, saying that Pope Francis was ahead of many of Italy's politicians on a range of end-of-life issues. Deputy M5S House Whip Matteo Mantero said "after a long impasse in the Senate, the PD seems to have freed itself up on living wills. "Now we will bring into the Senate this law and approve it, without shoddy compromises or changes that debase its value," Mantero said. "The M5S has been there since the very first minute and already in the House, voting in favour of the law, supported the approval of a measure that Italian citizens have been waiting for for too long: a civilised law that can guarantee a right that has been denied up to day". Renzi said Friday "I believe that on end-of-life issues the numbers in parliament are there and the majority of the Catholic world is agreed". He said he "agreed in the abstract" with the idea of attaching a confidence motion to a pending bill on living wills. Pope Francis's recent statement reiterating Church teaching against overzealous end-of-life treatment has refocused attention on the living wills bill. Maurizo Lupi of AP reiterated the junior government partner's opposition to the living-wills bill, saying they would not accept a vote of confidence for it. But the M5S's support would obviate the need for a confidence vote. A 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. Right-to-die activists have hailed the bill saying it has "finally" come eight years after the landmark case of Eluana Englaro, which split the country.

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