Two members of the Medical Ethics Committee of the Region of Umbria were at the Umbra Institute yesterday to discuss the ethical issues surrounding the definition of life and to present current Italian legislation on living wills. Doctors Linda Richieri and Antonio Perelli were invited by Professor Michael Chiariello, professor of philosophy for St. Bonaventure University, Franciscan Heritage Semester Study Abroad Program, and senior Umbra faculty member, organized the encounter as part of his course “Medicine, Ethics and Law: An International Perspective.”
The course familiarizes students with the outstanding ethical and legal problems facing medicine today, as well as giving them a broad, international perspective on questions of medical ethics. Students grapple with end-of-life issues, using real-life examples like the Terry Schiavo case, as well as similar Italian cases like the “caso Englaro.” Dr.Chiariello’s guests gave an overview of the Italian viewpoint on the current debate about whether brain death should still be the legal definition of death. The two doctors also had an animated discussion with students about living wills and whom should vested with the decision of when life (or quality of life) ends.
Participants in the discussion included Ms.Judy Chiariello, assistant director of the Program, as well as dottor Francesco Gardenghi, Umbra’s Assistant Director for Italian Institutional and Community Relations, who coordinated the visit. Professor Chiariello commented later that “the course is intended for students interested in law or medicine. My hope is that it will help them become professionals with a greater awareness of ethical issues and their philosophical foundations, and a more global intercultural appreciation of their practical reality.”