Current Affairs

SC issues notices to States to legalise passive euthanasia

Supreme Court issues notices to all states and Union Territories on legalising passive euthanasia. The apex court was hearing a plea on allowing euthanasia for people who are terminally ill and have slight chances of survival.

The Union government argued that passive euthanasia is another form of suicide and cannot be allowed. The court also appointed former solicitor general TR Andhyarujina as amicus curiae to assist it in the case.

The petition was filed by an NGO seeking voluntary passive euthanasia including withdrawal of life support system of a terminally ill person and stopping medication. Reportedly, the lawyer appearing for the NGO insisted the court to introduce a procedure under which a terminally ill person or whose health has deteriorated should be able to execute his or her will and ‘attorney authorisation’ for passive euthanasia as and when the situation arrives.

However, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing the Centre told the court that the plea for voluntary passive euthanasia was against public policy as would be in the lines of abetment to suicide and attempt to commit suicide. Various medical and legal dictionaries say passive euthanasia is the act of hastening the death of a terminally-ill patient by altering some form of support and letting nature take its course.

Passive euthanasia can involve turning off respirators, halting medications, discontinuing food and water so the patient dies because of dehydration or starvation. Passive euthanasia can include giving the patient large doses of morphine to control pain in spite of the likelihood that the painkiller can cause fatal respiratory problems.

Active euthanasia involves helping the patient to die on the basis of a request by either the patient of those close to him or her, usually direct family members.

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