March 24, 2018

Indian Supreme Court legalises passive euthanasia

11 March 2018, 01:30 | Ruben Fields

Undertrial prisoner dies in hospital On Mar 9 2018

Bhadrak DHH

Common Cause says persons with a family history of terminal illnesses - or indeed any person who feels he wants to be spared the ordeal of being put on life support -should be permitted to draw up a living will.

People on social media have come in huge support of the decision, stating that its encouraging for people who have to suffer pain, and don't want to live any longer because prolonged illness that incurable or if they're in an irreversible coma or vegetative state.

Bhushan had filed a petition to the Supreme Court on behalf of a registered society, Common Cause, seeking recognition of the right to establish a living will.

In Jaipur, Jain muni Tarun Sagar has welcomed the Supreme Court's verdict to allow passive euthanasia which was in consonance with the tenets of Jainism. Second is the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPAHC) or Health Care Proxy and third is the Living Will (LW).

Meanwhile, the government had said previous year that it had prepared a draft bill to allow passive euthanasia.

In a landmark order, the Supreme Court (SC) of India today permitted passive euthanasia.

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. The CJI said the other members of the bench have concurred on the guidelines and directives.

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The Chairman of the board nominated by the collector, that is, the Chief District Medical Officer, shall convey the decision of the board to the jurisdictional JMFC before giving effect to the decision to withdraw the medical treatment administered to the patient.

Passive euthanasia is a condition where there is a withdrawal of the medical treatment to expedite death of a terminally ill patient. This decision would then be conveyed to the jurisdictional JMFC who after visiting the patient and examining all aspects would authorise its implementation. It has also given sanction to 'Passive Euthanasia' and 'Living Will' and thereby issued guidelines in this regard.

The Supreme Court judgment on Friday, allowing a person suffering from terminal illness to refuse medical treatment to avoid "protracted physical suffering" drove a wedge between the scientific and religious domains.

Earlier, the bench had reserved the order on October 11, 2017.

Thus the Constitution Bench held that an adult human being having mental capacity to take an informed decision has right to refuse medical treatment including withdrawal from life saving devices.

Stating that active euthanasia - when death is brought about by an act - was not allowed in the country, Ms Virani said, "Passive euthanasia is allowed when a patient is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) like the case of Shanbaug".

When the living will or medical directive is produced by the family to the treating doctor, the hospital shall constitute a Medical Board of three doctors of minimum 20 years standing to examine the patient and the feasibility of executing the "living will". "Physicians' choices differed from the patients' stated ADs in 65 percent of cases, suggesting that they viewed the AD as only part of the information needed to make treatment decisions", he said.

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