Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Supreme Court of India legalise passive euthanasia, sets guidelines

Supreme Court of India legalise passive euthanasia, sets guidelines

In a landmark decision made by the Supreme Court today, passive Euthanasia got a go ahead.

An Advance Directive (Living Will) allows people to decide in advance whether or not they want to be put on life support in cases of terminal illness.

The bench said that passive euthanasia is permissible with guidelines.

"Any individual has the full right to decide that he can not take any medical treatment. the family has to respect that decision", Prashant Bhushan, the petitioner said.

The living will gives a general sense of the patient's wishes, and can be modified by the patient to include specific interventions such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, ventilatory support, or enteral feeding.

It involves adjustment of some medical support which will then hasten the death of a person, who has been declared terminally-ill and letting nature take its due course.

Even though passive euthanasia has been legal since 2011 in India, the government is yet to pass the law. "Keeping a patient alive by artificial means against his/her wishes is an assault on his/her body", the petitioner Common Cause said.

The Supreme Court says it has laid down guidelines on who would execute the will and how nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the medical board. The court observed that right to die with dignity is a fundamental right.

Right to die with dignity a fundamental right says SC while upholding passive euthanasia

The court said it was time to dispense with such shared suffering and sense of guilt and face reality.

In cases where there is no "advance directive", the patient, family, friends and legal guardians can't take the decision on their own, but can approach a high court for stopping treatment. The five judges unanimously upheld constitutional values of liberty, dignity, autonomy and privacy. January 16, 2006: SC allowed the Delhi Medical Council (DMC) to intervene and asked it to file documents on passive euthanasia.

The SC said it was aware of the pitfalls in giving effect to "living wills", considering the property disputes relatives have.

Passive euthanasia entails a patient being allowed to die by limiting medical intervention, not escalating already aggressive treatment, withholding or withdrawing artificial life support in cases that are judged to be medically futile. It is further divided into three other parts, reflecting individual observations by Justices Chandrachud, Sikri and Bhushan.

The provisions are mandatory to ensure humane care of the dying, restoring their dignity and meaningfulness in the dying process.

The court has issued detailed guidelines in this regard.

It should indicate the decision relating to the circumstances in which withholding or withdrawal of medical treatment can be resorted to.

A person need not give any reasons nor is he answerable to any authority on why he should write an advanced directive.

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