SC’s Historic Judgment On “Passive Euthanasia” Puts Awesome Responsibility On Doctors

Supreme Court of India has passed a landmark judgment legalizing “passive euthanasia” or “living will” so that life-support may be removed from permanently unconscious or terminally ill patients who are suffering from painful incurable diseases like end stage cancer or AIDS to let me die in a quick and dignified way. The concept of “living will” to allow a more dignified death is not new in most Western countries. Indian Apex Court has now agreed that “right to life” which is guaranteed under Article 21 of Indian Constitution should also include the right to have a rapid, painless and dignified death. The Apex Court has said that in order to enhance death by withdrawal of life-support from an unconscious patient suffering from an irreversible medical condition, treating physician and doctors of a “medical board”, in consultation with patient’s family, must first agree that the patient is afflicted with a truly “irreversible” disease and recommend “passive euthanasia”. A judge then evaluate the case and must approve before the life-support can be removed to induce a rapid and dignified death. While we should welcome this historic judgment by the Supreme Court paving the way for a more quick and painless death because nobody deserves to suffer a slow and agonizing death, PBT has raised the concern about the possibility of grave abuse of this process by unscrupulous doctors and patient’s family leading to the induction of a wrongful and premature death of an unconscious patient (read PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha’s article on this published in Hindu Business Online at the link https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/specials/pulse/sc-judgement-on-living-will-places-an-enormous-responsibility-in-doctors-hands/article23274337.ece; also attached below).

Hindu (Living Will) March 17, 2018