#PassiveEuthanasia: Medical fraternity welcomes Supreme Court’s verdict

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.

Doctors put forth their thoughts about this latest development regarding passive euthanasia by the apex court. They viewed this as a positive change and said this offers hope to patients.

Dr Navin Salins, palliative care expert at Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital and who has been working with ICMR said, “This is excellent! However, we strongly believe that we believe that withholding and withdrawing in euthanasia is part of the medical treatment. But whatever terms that you give it’s a good thing for the patients that you can avoid needles medical interventions for the patients. It will save lot of cost and stop the torture for the patients.”

Welcoming the decision, Dr Shivkumar Utture, IMA member and President of Maharashtra Medical Council) said, “Giving legal sanction to passive euthanasia and permitting a person to draft a ‘living will’ with strict guidelines is an excellent judgement. Now, after the Supreme Court’s verdict the passive euthanasia and ‘living will’ cannot be misused as there would be strict guidelines.”

Dr. Nagraj G. Huilgol, Secretary of The Society for the Right to Die with Dignity in Mumbai said passive euthanasia is being practice widely in India.

He said, “Passive euthanasia is followed across the country. Every doctor at some point of time in their practice comes across such cases where the patient is severely ill and there is no scope of improvement. In such cases the doctors have accelerated the process of death by not giving definitive course of treatment. However passive euthanasia shouldn’t be seen as the option for harvesting organs or financial constraints for treatment.”

Anamika Mishra, a patient affected with Muscular Dystrophy had this to say on the Supreme Court’s verdict, “I had requested for mercy killing in 2014 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi took cognisance of the same and had told local officers to look into the matter. SC has taken a good decision, we have got hope now.”

Dr Roopkumar Gursahani, Palliative care expert, Consultant Neurologist and Epileptologist at PD Hinduja Hospital & MRC said, “Taking charge of one’s last days is a basic human right. India does not have a comprehensive law on End of Life decision making. The SC judgement is one step forward in handing control over to the individual. As a society we need to normalise death and to remove the taboo around discussing it. All doctors need to be aware of the basic principles of palliative care so that we can offer care when cure is no longer possible.”