Indian court allows passive euthanasia

Patient at hospital

Patient at hospital

During the assault, she was tied with a dog chain around her neck, which cut off oxygen supply to her brain and left her in a permanently vegetative state.From that day Aruna could survive only on mashed food.

A "living will" is made by a person, in his normal state of mind, seeking voluntary euthanasia in case of terminal illness, if he or she reaches an irreversible vegetative state.

"Dying is a part of the living process and hence a part of Article 21".

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. "But before passive euthanasia comes the question of the living will". Active euthanasia, by administering a lethal injection, continues to be illegal in India. The judgment decreed that passive euthanasia is legal and valid across the country.

Virani said she was deeply grateful to the Supreme Court for its verdict. "The said directive, we think, will dispel many a doubt at the relevant time of need during the course of treatment of the patient. The safeguards that the court has built in should allay fears that some people may have", he said. According to his mother, K Venkatesh wanted to donate his organs after his death which was slowly and steadily getting rendered useless but the lack of clear law meant he could only donate his eyes. Unable to bear the medical expenses of his son's treatment and having to see him suffer daily, Dennis Kumar's filed in a plea which was denied by the court in 2008. She was at the mercy of KEM administration who kept her alive by keep her feeding her through intravenous pipes and took care of her through proper medication for as long as 37 years knowing she will never be back to normal again.

"The question that arises is should he not be allowed to cross the doors of life and enter painlessly and with dignity, into the dark tunnel of death whereafter it is said that there is resplendence". No one will want to simply end a life without a strong motive.

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She further stated that the delayed judgment would be a beacon of hope to many and as per the court orders, adults could prepare this will and not minors. In the letter, Narayan Lavate said that he does not have children and they don't suffer from any major health problem, but "we are of no use to the society now and can not contribute anything".

Finally the Supreme Court took the initiative of hearing the matter on January 23rd 2014 by a three-judge bench led by then CJI P Sathasivam and the Delhi Medical Council supporting the task it was assigned tofileda copy of the proceedings of International Workshop for Policy Statement on Euthanasia in India, to which the Court reversed its previous verdict.

In India, passive euthanasia was termed legal under exceptional circumstances.

"The right of life is in the hands of God".

While the passage of the law involving passive euthanasia should be celebrated, what will be interesting to note is the implementation of the guidelines. The Supreme Court has laid out the framework for a "living will" and also prescribed the procedure for partial euthanasia which needs to be welcomed.

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