India's top court recognises the right to die with dignity

10 March, 2018, 01:43 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Bhadrak DHH

Patients, who had appealed to the court for achieving euthanasia have also commended the decision, saying that they can die with dignity and in peace rather than facing a lifetime of suffering.

The 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. In a "living will", a person can make a statement in advance that their life should not be prolonged by putting them on a ventilator or an artificial support system.

"A terrible, painful death on a rational but incapacitated terminally ill patient are an affront to human dignity". Our NGO wanted the concept of a living will which is an advanced directive when a patient, who is in control, prepares the will before he is terminally ill and chooses to not stay in a vegetative state.

On 25 February 2014, a three judge bench had referred the plea for voluntary passive euthanasia to the constitution bench. Here's how doctors view the nuances and practical aspects of the euthanasia debate.

Many public hospitals discuss realistic outcomes to help families choose whether they want to provide life-support to terminally ill patients with no hope of surviving.

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The term passive euthanasia is a misnomer, said Dr Sushma Bhatnagar, head of the palliative care department of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Whether right to life includes right to death is an issue but right to death with dignity is undisputable. "Active Euthanasia has more likelihood of being misused by unscrupulous individuals to attain their ulterior motives and therefore, may not be approved". This means that a terminally-ill patient is administered a lethal drug or substance intentionally in order for them to pass away peacefully, in this case, in the event of terminal illness.

But this can be done only after permission from all family members and a medical board created to look into the case is received. Former nurse Aruna Shanbaug, a victim of a brutal sexual assault in 1973, had been in a persistent vegetative state in Mumbai's KEM Hospital for 36 years.

In active euthanasia, a person or medical professionals directly and deliberately do something for the death of the suffering patient.

Procedure for incompetent patients: In case of an incompetent patient (persons of unsound mind, etc), a near relative, medical practitioner etc, can apply to the High Court for granting permission to withdraw or withhold medical treatment. The decision takes place on a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court which is headed by the Cheif Justice of India Dipak Misra.

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