Mina Welby 15 years after her husband’s death: “The battle continues”

Cappato: “From Welby’s fight to today, progress is being made, but changing the law is under discussion”

“I promised it to Piergiorgio and so I did. He invited me to carry on his blog ‘Calibano’; reflecting on it that same evening, I understood the significance of that request: to continue his battle”. She studied, fought, risked prison to keep her promise to her husband on his deathbed. 15 years have passed since that day and Mina Welby, co-president of the Luca Coscioni Association (a role that was also of Piergiorgio), is still on the field defending the rights of those who suffer, the freedom of choice at the end of life.

“I remember that long afternoon spent together – Mina Welby tells Adnkronos, recalling with emotion that December 20 15 years ago – I was near her bed, we talked little but we looked at each other a lot and intensely. From time to time I asked him something, if he wanted to listen to music or look at photos. ‘No’ his answer. I had the feeling for a moment that he was afraid, that he wanted to reconsider. 5-year-old son of one of my pupils, he was holding a candle in the shape of Santa Claus. Piergiorgio smiled at him, made him approach and light the candle which was then placed on the TV in front of the bed “.

“The path is still long – says Mina Welby – but the steps taken so far, in the sign of Piergiorgio’s long battle for freedom of choice at the end of life, are a satisfaction for me. Today we have law 219/17 which introduced the living will, now the time is ripe to take further steps towards legal euthanasia “.

Speaking of the bill on the end of life recently arrived in the Chamber, the co-president of the association Luca Coscioni says that “by following the sentence of the Constitutional Court, it leaves many sick people out, those who do not have life-sustaining treatment for example, oncologists “. Another of the critical points of the new end of life law, according to Mina Welby is the conscientious objection of health professionals. “Already with the law 219/17, objecting doctors refuse to interrupt the therapies, a sacrosanct right of the patient who has asked for deep sedation to put an end to the suffering. The question of conscientious objection should be decided only at the moment, case by case case, not required by law “.

Then he observes: “if the doctor prepares or directly injects the lethal substance (where is the difference?) It is not killing, if anything, saving the ‘real’ life of the person: the Church also says that life does not die, life changes. Piergiorgio he said: ‘I’ll change my dress’ “.

Cappato: “From Welby’s fight to today, progress is being made but changing the law is under discussion”

“Four months before that night, he asked me for a hand to get the euthanasia kit in Belgium. But it didn’t exist. Only thanks to his public struggle and the response of the President of the Republic Napolitano, did we discover that Piergiorgio Welby could get what he asked for. in compliance with the Constitution “. There was also Marco Cappato, treasurer of the Luca Coscioni Association, that famous 15-year night. “I remember – Cappato confides to Adnkronos – that in Piero there was great serenity but also tension because we did not know if the anesthetist Mario Riccio would be able to ‘find the vein’ to practice sedation and then unplug the respirator. , there were also two doctors who had come from Belgium, they had with them the euthanasia substance that would eventually allow him not to wake up again. Moments of great apprehension but Riccio found the vein, then Piero called us, one by one, next to him and he thanked us. He spent the last few moments with his wife Mina and a Bob Dylan song in the background. ”

“What Piergiorgio Welby got today is perfectly legal – says Cappato – That fight publicly conducted to get to die without suffering has led to a series of other sentences up to the living will law which was approved during the trial against me for having helped to die Fabiano Antoniani, Dj Fabo “. Therefore, “in Italy it is legal to interrupt life-saving therapies, such as Welby’s, and to be able to do it under sedation so as not to suffer, do it under a living will. Just as it is legal to aid suicide on the basis of the sentence of the Constitutional Court”, he continues Cappato, according to whom “great steps have been made on the road to individual self-determination”. What is not yet legal, he adds, “is active euthanasia on the Dutch, Belgian, Spanish Luxembourgish model”.

The referendum, promoted by the Coscioni Association, “proposes to repeal – recalls Cappato – that article of the penal code for which the doctor Mario Riccio was indicted (later acquitted, ed), or the so-called murder of the consenting party (art. 579 cp) which can sentence up to 15 years in prison. The referendum is the only means to abrogate it because the law under discussion in Parliament does not even touch the question “.

And speaking of the bill on the end of life, the treasurer of the Luca Coscioni Association criticizes the basic text: “it aims not to extend what is already right, but to restrict current rights. The rapporteur Alfredo Bazoli of the Democratic Party has taken a public position against the referendum for which instead parliamentarians from his own party have mobilized and explicitly wants to reduce the possibilities now envisaged by the Constitutional Court sentence precisely to prevent this fundamental freedom from affirming itself through individual cases such as Welby. The law under discussion today is made on purpose to block the way to the new Welby cases and therefore either it is modified or it is better that it is not approved “.

Next Monday at the Cavour Congress Center in Rome (via Cavour 50 / A), the Luca Coscioni Association will remember its co-president during the ‘2006-2021: from Welby to the Legal Euthanasia Referendum’ appointment. Present, in addition to his wife Mina, Filomena Gallo, Marco Cappato, the anesthetist of Welby Mario Riccio. We will talk about the next steps on the end of life of the Association between Referendum, assisted suicide bill and Mario, the first Italian to have had the go-ahead from the ethics committee to access the technique in Italy, but forced to take legal action because he was hindered by the Company. Sanitary.
(by Sibilla Bertollini)