Pas­sive eu­thana­sia al­lowed in In­dia

Alive - - Letters -

Af­ter the Supreme Court nod for pas­sive eu­thana­sia in 2011, it dropped enough hints on de­vis­ing a mech­a­nism to le­git­imize ‘liv­ing will’. Ac­cord­ingly, the lat­est rul­ing by the same court on ‘liv­ing will’ by el­e­vat­ing an in­di­vid­ual’s right to die with dig­nity is a land­mark judg­ment. In fact, liv­ing will is an ex­ten­sion of pas­sive eu­thana­sia but has greater force be­cause it al­lows an in­di­vid­ual to ex­er­cise bod­ily au­ton­omy even when con­scious­ness has been seeped out of the body. Med­i­cal ethics and hu­man rights place a moral obli­ga­tion upon doc­tors and rel­a­tives to ac­cept pa­tient’s pref­er­ences un­der any cost. In short, it is merely recog­ni­tion that death can­not be an­nulled.

De­spite reser­va­tions ex­pressed by cer­tain re­li­gious cler­ics, it is a mile­stone ver­dict be­cause the court af­ter con­sid­er­ing the pros and cons had come to a just and fair con­clu­sion that right to die peace­fully with dig­nity is as im­por­tant as right to life guar­an­teed un­der ar­ti­cle 21 of the con­sti­tu­tion. Essen­tially doc­tors and rel­a­tives must with­draw life sup­port in the event of ter­mi­nal ill­ness or pa­tient slid into a veg­e­ta­tive state or ir­re­versible coma.

All in all, Supreme Court le­gal­is­ing pas­sive eu­thana­sia and ap­prov­ing liv­ing will has up­held rightly an in­di­vid­ual’s sovereignty over his/her body by aid­ing a ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients a dig­ni­fied exit from the world with a rider that liv­ing will must be vol­un­tar­ily writ­ten with­out co­er­cion or com­pul­sion by a per­son of sound mind and health.

— R. Srini­vasan

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