ibusinesslines.com March 24, 2018

SC upholds passive euthanasia for terminally ill persons

09 March 2018, 06:11 | Justin Tyler

SC allows passive euthanasia, upholds 'right to die with dignity'

Supreme Court Human being have right to die with dignity

India's Supreme Court Friday legalised passive euthanasia in a landmark judgment that places the power of choice to live in the hands of an individual.

It was also seen to have adopted a misconstrued construction of the decision of the 1998 Gian Kaur case where a constitutional bench had held that the right to life did not include the right to die.

The apex court also allowed an individual to draft a living who will be specifying that they not be put on life support if they slip into a not curable coma in the future. While passive euthanasia, described by the Supreme Court as "withdrawing medical treatment with a deliberate intention of causing the patient's death" is permitted, provided guidelines and conditions are followed, active euthanasia, "ending life through use of lethal substance" is not permitted in any circumstance.

Passive euthanasia is stopping all kinds of medical treatment to hasten the death of a terminally ill person in order to relieve them of their suffering.

A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by chief justice Dipak Misra has pronounced the verdict on whether "living will" of a person should be recognised in which a person can make a statement in advance that her life should not be prolonged by putting her on a ventilator or artificial support system by allowing the same.

Supreme Court Human being have right to die with dignity

Passive euthanasia entails withdrawing artificial life support causing the death of a person who is in a permanent vegetative state, with no chance of recovery. The CJI said that other members of the five-judge Constitution bench have concurred on the guidelines and directives passed by it. The government had opposed the concept of Living Will and the Medical Power of Attorney in case of terminally ill patients. The Bill mandates that the medical practitioner must inform the patient of all treatment options, and suggest or provide palliative care to make life less painful.

The hospital where such patient is admitted, would set up a medical board consisting of the head of the treating department and at least three experts from the fields of general medicine, cardiology, neurology, nephrology, psychiatry or oncology having at least 20 years of experience.

The court said advance directives for terminally-ill patients could be issued and executed by the next friend or relatives of the person after which a medical board would consider it, reported news agency PTI.

"Human beings have the right to die with dignity", the SC said. Former nurse Aruna Shanbaug, a victim of a brutal sexual assault in 1973, had been in a persistent vegetative state in Mumbai's KEM Hospital for 36 years.

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