In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court has given legal sanction to passive euthanasia. According to this, it will permit ‘living will’ by patients on withdrawing medical support if they slip into an irreversible coma.

What is Passive euthanasia?

Passive euthanasia is a condition where there is a withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient.

Also: 5 Things to know about Aruna Shanbaug and the case

What is a Living Will?

A living will is a legal document prepared by any person in their healthy/sound state of mind. In which they can specify, in advance, if they would like to opt for an artificial life support mechanism, should they fall into an irreversible terminal illness, in the future.

What is the ruling all about?

The ruling came in response to a  petition filed by an NGO the ‘Common Cause’ in 2005. It approached the court seeking a direction for recognition of ‘living will’. Further, it contended that when a medical expert says that a person afflicted with a terminal disease had reached a point of no return, then he/she should be given the right to refuse being put on life support.

What did the SC Say?

Also, the apex 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.

The CJI, while reading out the judgment, said that though there were four separate opinions of the bench all the judges were unanimous that the ‘living will’ should be permitted since a person cannot be allowed to continue suffering in a comatose state when he or she doesn’t wish to live.

Points kept forward by the Petition

“How can a person be told that he/she does not have right to prevent torture on his body? Right to life includes right to die with dignity. A person cannot be forced to live on support of ventilator. Keeping a patient alive by artificial means against his/her wishes is an assault on his/her body,” the petition said.

Read Also: Elderly Couple Pleads For Active Euthanasia, Raising Questions

 

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