Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Patient's choice: Living will elevates passive euthanasia

Supreme Court's Euthanasia Verdict Here are 5 Different Types of Euthanasia You didn't Know About SC allows passive euthanasia, upholds 'right to die with dignity'
Glenn Montgomery | 11 March, 2018, 01:59

In a historic decision taken on 9th March 2018, Friday, the Supreme Court had decided on right to die with dignity and said that persons with teminal illness can make "living will" for passive euthanasia. The living will is defined as the person's right to issue a pre directive where in which he or she allows the withdrawal of life support or discontinuation of medicine if a situation arises in future of person being in a terminally ill state.

The top court said that directions and guidelines laid down by it and its directive shall remain in force till a legislation is brought on the issue.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra observed that the failure to legally recognise advance medical directives may amount to "non-facilitation" of the right to smoothen the dying process and the dignity in that process was also a part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The right to live should logically encompass the right to stop living - the right to eat does not prevent a man from doing something else in life apart from eating, or the right to sleep does not mean that he can only sleep in exercise of his right.

Father Paul Thelakkat, editor of the church-run Sathyadeepam magazine, said the church apprehends that the verdict could be misused as a right of dignified killing of terminally ill patients. The judgment decreed that passive euthanasia is legal and valid across the country. M R Rajagopal, chairman of Pallium India and a co-author of the study, said there are an estimated 10 million patients in India requiring palliative care every year.

"Today's is a landmark judgement because it comes at a time when medical science allows patients to be kept alive by artificial means and the hospitals to keep charging money", Vipul Mudgal, the head of main petitioner Common Cause, an advocacy group, told the BBC.

The Lavates said the Supreme Court's judgment was irrelevant to them.

The court also spelt the guidelines to be followed in cases where there would be no advance directive, saying that such persons can not be "alienated".

Let us now take a look at some of the prominent cases in India that has raged the debate around Euthanasia.

Passive euthanasia involves withholding or discontinuing treatment for a terminally ill person where as active euthanasia involves injecting a lethal dose to a terminally ill person. Like the privacy judgment, the right to die with dignity is a way for courts to support people living life on their own terms rather than being infantilised by government or exploited by commerce.

Jan 23, 2014: A three-judge bench led by then CJI P Sathasivam starts final hearing in the case. He further clarified that while active euthanasia is a crime, same is not the case with passive euthanasia as the element of good faith and objective assessment of the caregiver of the patient will protect doctors performing this task.

The document should also specify the name of the guardian or close relative, who in the event of the person becoming incapable of taking a decision, will be authorised give consent to withdrawal of medical treatment.

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