All you want to know about euthanasia and ‘living will’

The Supreme Court has given legal sanction to passive euthanasia in a landmark verdict, permitting 'living will' by patients on withdrawing medical support if they slip into irreversible coma

#PassiveEuthanasia: Medical fraternity welcomes Supreme Court’s verdict
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  • Today, the apex court allowed passive euthanasia stating that human beings have the right to die with dignity, but made sure to set out strict guidelines that will govern when it is permitted.
  • The country’s top court also allowed an individual to draft a ‘living will’ to specifying that they not be put on life support if they slip into an irreversible coma in the future.

Euthanasia

(Source: Dr Shivkumar Utture, IMA member and President of Maharashtra Medical Council)

  • Euthanasia is when it is end of life. Some patients who have reached such a state where even today’s modern medicine cannot bring him/her back to life. Nor improve his condition. And the patient is on support system.
  • Euthanasia is of 2 types – active and passive.
  • Active Euthanasia: Drugs are given to patients to end their life
  • Passive Euthanasia: Stop giving drugs which are required by the patients to sustain life or instrumentation (respirator and so on).
  • Active euthanasia is illegal in many places around the world as well as in India.
  • Now, passive euthanasia has allowed us to stop the machines, if we can guarantee about the patient.
  • The SC has given legal sanction to passive euthanasia and permitting a person to draft a ‘living will’ with strict guidelines. There was a fear that this would be misused.
  • But, once the SC lays down the methodology and the system by which this would be allowed. Then, following that will help.
  • 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. Since, every person has a right to live. He also has a right to die in the way he/she requires.

As per Mumbai-based lawyer Amit Karkhanis:

  • A living will is like a general will made by a person.
  • The living will is disclosed while the person is unwell.
  • In which, the information about the patient’s choice of treatment will be mentioned.
  • The further course of treatment will be as per the patient’s will
  • Two eyewitnesses will be required.
  • Doctor’s certificate is also important.
  • One should be capable of making his/her own decisions with a sound state of mind.
  • Notary can be done of the same.
  • Living will can be made in the lawyer’s presence.

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#PassiveEuthanasia: Medical fraternity welcomes Supreme Court’s verdict

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