Assisted suicide and new issues: the Ethics Committees

Main Article Content

Rosagemma Ciliberti
Alessandro Bonsignore
Paolo Gianatti
Nicolò Patroniti


Ethics Committees; assisted suicide; aiding suicide; right to die; vulnerability; end of life; Italian Constitutional Court; Marco Cappato; Fabiano Antoniani.


The recent reform of the organization of Ethics Committees in Italy is linked with the complex issue of end-of-life decisions. Starting from a reconstruction of the history and purpose of Ethics Committees, the article aims to provide an overview of the legislation and its evolution, and to highlight some questions that have not yet been fully answered in relation to assisted suicide. The confrontation with the dimension of suffering and pain represents one of the most problematic and still unresolved moral issues of the health and care professions. In this context, the creation of an Ethical Space, as an expression of a  “medicine of proximity ", can be a valuable tool not only to find difficult answers to situations of severe suffering, but also to offer a comprehensive and supportive accompaniment to the person who asks to leave life, as well a concrete support to the health professionals involved in procedures to end-of-life, testifying a broad and active solidarity.

Abstract 87 | PDF Downloads 85


1. Neri D. La bioetica: storia e problemi. Ann Ist Super Sanita 1998; 34(2):171–77.
2. Battaglia L. Un’etica per il mondo vivente. Roma: Carocci; 2011.
3. Martini M, Penco, S, Baldelli I, Biolatti B, Ciliberti R. An ethics for the living world: Operation methods of animal Ethics Committees in Italy. Ann Ist Super Sanita 2015; 51(3):244–47.
4. Spagnolo AG. L’emodialisi e la nascita dei comitati di bioetica. G Ital Nefrol 2010; 27(6):559–60.
5. Childress J. Who Shall Live When Not All Can Live? Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2013; 96:237–53.
6. Mannelli C. Whose life to save? Scarce resources allocation in the COVID-19 outbreak. J Med Ethics 2020; 46:364–66.
7. Barranco R, Messina C, Bonsignore A, Cattrini C, Ventura F. Medical Liability in Cancer Care During COVID-19 Pandemic: Heroes or Guilty? Frontiers in Public Health 2020; 8:602988.
8. Marmion PJ. Periviability and the ‘god committee’. Acta Paediatr 2017; 106(6): 857–59.
9. Jonsen AR. The God Squad and the Origins of Transplantation Ethics and Policy. J Law Med Ethics 2007; 35(2):238–40.
10. Fox R, Swazey JP. The Courage to Fail: A Social View of Organ Transplants and Dialysis. Chicago: Univ. Press Chicago; 1974.
11. Battelle P. "Let me sleep": the story of Karen Ann Quinlan. Ladies Home J 1976; 93(9):69–76.
12. Comitato Nazionale per la Bioetica (CNB). Orientamenti per i comitati etici in Italia. 2001
13. Delbon P, Maghin F, Conti A. Medically assisted suicide in Italy: the recent judgment of the Constitutional Court. Clin Ther 2021; 172 (3):193–96.
14,. Turoldo F. Aiding and Abetting Suicide: The Current Debate in Italy. Camb Q Healthc Ethics
2021; 30(1):123–35.
15. Neri D. Eutanasia. Valori, scelte morali, dignità delle persone. Roma-Bari: Laterza; 1995.
16. Fornero G. Indisponibilità e disponibilità della vita: una difesa filosofico giuridica del suicidio assistito e dell’eutanasia volontaria. Torino: Utet; 2020.
17. Palazzani L. Il suicidio assistito medicalizzato: riflessioni filosofico-giuridiche sulla sentenza n. 242/2019 della Corte costituzionale. BioLaw Journal-Rivista di BioDiritto 2020; 2
18. Ciliberti R, Gulino M, Gorini I. New Italian law about end of life: Self-determination and shared care pathway. [La nuova normativa Italiana sul fine vita: L'autodeterminazione e la condivisione del percorso di cura] Recenti Prog Med 2018; 109(5):267–71.
19. Sblano S, Arpaio A, Zotti F, Marzullo A, Bonsignore A, Dell’Erba A. Discrepancies between clinical and autoptic diagnoses in Italy: evaluation of 879 consecutive cases at the "Policlinico of Bari" teaching hospital in the period 1990-2009. Ann Ist Super Sanita 2014; 50(1):44–8.
20. Comitato Nazionale Per La Bioetica (CNB). I comitati per l’etica nella clinica. 2017.
21. Comitato Nazionale Per La Bioetica (CNB). Vulnerabilità e cura nel welfare di comunità. Il ruolo dello spazio etico per un dibattito pubblico. 2021

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 > >>