Passive Euthanasia verdict: Supreme court's landmark decision embraced by people

SC allows passive euthanasia, upholds 'right to die with dignity'

Passive euthanasia is now legal: Supreme Court permits 'living will' for terminally ill patients

The bench said that passive euthanasia is permissible with guidelines.

"To die as per clearly stated, prior personal choice, without being tethered to tubes and machines in a usually futile bid to slightly prolong life in a comatose state, is a right that everyone must be granted", Reddy said, reacting to the Supreme Court ruling which recognised the right of a terminally-ill patient to make an "advance medical directive", or "living will" refusing medical treatment.

Over a decade after NGO Common Clause filed a petition seeking the right for terminally-ill patients "to die with dignity", India's supreme court has decreed that passive euthanasia is legally valid across the country.

The Supreme Court's order - hailed as "historic" by petitioners - means medical treatment can be withdrawn to hasten a person's death, a practice known as passive euthanasia. Second is the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC) or Health Care Proxy and third is the Living Will (LW).

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The government had opposed recognition of "living will" and said the consent for removal of artificial support system given by a patient may not be an informed one and without being aware of medical advancements. Integrity and ethical conduct of the medical and legal professions need supplementary fortification, on matters beyond passive euthanasia as well.

In the Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug case, the validity of passive euthanasia was upheld by the Supreme Court, but there is no elaborative procedure for doing the same as the court was under the influence of the Gian Kaur case of 1996, in which it was held that the right to live with dignity under Article 21 was inclusive of the right to die with dignity.

Justice Sikri said an advance directive or living will from a patient to stop medical treatment at a particular stage - "particularly when he is brain dead or clinically dead or not revivable" - quells apprehensions of future regret for relatives and criminal action against doctors.

Feb 15, 2016: Centre says that it is deliberating the issue. "A failure to recognise advance medical directives (or living will) may amount to non-facilitation of the right to smoothen the dying process and the right to live with dignity".

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Rights of a competent patient: Every competent patient (including minors above the age of 16 years) will have the right to decide and request the medical practitioner to withhold, withdraw, or continue medical treatment in case of a terminal illness. In cases where the matter come up before the High Court, the Magistrate will intimate withdrawal of life support and the said order shall be preserved in court records for three years after the patient's death.

"It makes it very clear that now doctors in case of terminally-ill people can act freely.(Before the verdict) they (doctors) were under some kind of threat".

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.

Let us now take a look at some of the prominent cases in India that has raged the debate around Euthanasia. During the discussion, the family members shall be apprised of the pros and cons of withdrawal or refusal of further medical treatment to the patient and if they give consent in writing, then the hospital medical may certify the course of action to be taken.

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In fact, there is a provision where advance directives (ADs) can be prepared by a person while still in possession of decisional capacity about how treatment decisions should be made on her or his behalf in the event she or he loses the capacity to make such decisions.

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