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Eluana Englaro, seen in this undated photo, fell into a vegetative state following a car accident in 1992. ((Englaro family/Associated Press))

The Italian woman at the centre of a high-profile euthanasia debate has died, media agencies reported Monday.

Eluana Englaro, who had been in a vegetative state for 17 years, died in a clinic in the northeastern city of Udine, the ANSA and Apcom news agencies said.

"Yes, she has left us," her father, Beppino Englaro, told ANSA. "But I don't want to say anything, I just want to be alone."

Englaro's case has pitted right-to-die activists against the anti-euthanasia movement.

Late last year, her father won an intense 10-year legal battle to allow her feeding tubes to be removed, saying that was her wish. The court accepted that before the accident, Englaro had expressed a preference for dying over being kept alive artificially.

In line with the high court ruling, medical workers on Friday began gradually suspending food and water for Englaro.

But on Monday, Italian senators were frantically discussing a bill designed to keep Englaro alive. The bill — supported by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, his centre-right government and the Vatican — was expected to win quick approval. The bill could still affect future right-to-die cases.

Berlusconi's government had passed an emergency decree Friday to prevent Englaro from having her tube disconnected, but the move led to a rare institutional crisis as the country's president, Giorgio Napolitano, rejected it on the grounds it defied court rulings.

Italy does not allow euthanasia. Patients have a right to refuse treatment, but they are barred from giving advance directions on what treatment they wish to receive if they become unconscious.

With files from the Associated Press