Living wills bill tabled immediately, ius soli put off

Immigrant kids citizenship bill 'will never be discussed'-League

(ANSA) - Rome, December 5 - The Senate whips on Tuesday "immediately" tabled a bill on living wills, a controversial measure that has been held up by conservative opposition, but put off until the end of the parliamentary agenda a similarly opposed 'ius soli' law on citizenship for immigrant children, effectively killing the bill's chance of being approved before the end of the legislative term. "They'll never discuss it, and I'm happy," said the rightwing populist League whip, Gian Marco Centinaio".
    Talks to push through a bill on living wills are continuing between the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD), former Milan mayor Giuliano Pisapia's Progressive Field (CP), and other progressive groups.
    PD leader and ex-premier Matteo Renzi said last week "we are doing stuff of the left", referring to that push.
    The passage of the bill hinges on the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), which scorns alliances, keeping a pledge to vote with the PD on the bill.
    League leader Matteo Salvini created a a storm of criticism by saying "rather than guaranteeing a good death, we should guarantee a good life".
    The leader of the anti-euro, anti-migrant party reacted by saying "I'm ready to play the part of the bad and the ugly, as long as I can bring forward battles of civilisation, for those who want to die, those who want to live, and those who want to be born." He said "on end-of-life-issues we are ready to discuss things, we'd like to know if and when there's going to be a vote".
    The M5S last week said it would back the PD's bid to finally pass a bill introducing living wills.
    PD leader Renzi said recently the time had come to pass the legislation, which has stalled amid conservative opposition in parliament, 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 the junior government partner Popular ARea (AP) reiterated AP'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.
    As for 'ius soli', Latin for 'law of the soil', Pisapia's CP on Monday said it was a prime condition for forging an alliance with the PD.
    On Tuesday another newer leftwing group, Free and Equal, called for an approval of ius soli along with the living wills bill.
    But Salvini said the League would hold a demonstration against the ius soli bill in Rome on December 10, saying "citizenship is not a gift". CP launched a social-media campaign on the issue Monday, posting on Twitter and Facebook the slogan "let's bring Italy into the Chamber. Let's table the ius soli".
    Pisapia retweeted Monday: "The #IusSoli is a civilised law that will give the right to be Italians to a million boys and girls who are already citizens to all intents and purposes, except for the law.
    "We loudly call for the Ius Soli to be tabled in the agenda to be set on Tuesday December 5".
    Minister for Relations with Parliament Anna Finocchiaro said last month it was "certainly possible" for the 'ius soli' law to be passed before the end of the parliamentary term early next year.
    Speaking at a PD Senate conference on the ius soli, PD heavyweight Finocchiaro said "my presence here is due to my strong support of this bill".
    The ius soli bill has been stuck in the Senate due to centre-right opposition, including from the centrist junior government partner Popular Alternative (AP).
    AP, led by Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, says it is not the right time to grant such citizenship, amid popular concerns after a migrant crisis.
    Opposition parties including the anti-immigrant League and Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party are staunchly against the law, saying it will act a as a pull factor for migrants.
    The law would grant citizenship to children of long-time regular immigrants who have spent at least five years in the Italian school system.
    At present, such children can apply for citizenship when they turn 18.
    In practice, the bill would lower that age limit to around 10-12 years.
    The PD and other supporters of the bill say there are some 800,000 children that could benefit from the bill.