Living will, and Supreme Court order for simplifying the passive euthanasia procedure - IE -26/01/23
A five-judge SC bench decided to modify the existing rules for “living wills” as established in its 2018 decision allowing passive euthanasia, in order to make the process of passive euthanasia easier.
->Meaning of ‘Living Will’: Living will is a person’s right to make an advance directive about the course of his or her treatment, including the removal of life support, if such a situation arises.
->Evolution of the concept of ‘Living Will’ in India:
-Law Commission of India (2006) in its 196th Report titled ‘Medical Treatment to Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners)’: A patient’s decision to not receive medical treatment did not constitute an attempt to commit suicide under Section 309 IPC. Also, a doctor who obeys the instructions of a competent patient to withhold/withdraw medical treatment does not commit a breach of professional duty.
-Aruna Shanbaug case (2011): The SC allowed passive euthanasia for the nurse lying in a vegetative state at a hospital in Mumbai.
-S. Puttaswamy case/ the Right to Privacy case (2017): – Article 21 includes the concept of individual dignity and thus allows passive euthanasia.
-Common Cause case (2018): The SC decided that passive euthanasia will be legally allowed henceforth in India and also laid down guidelines for living wills.
->Active euthanasia: involves an active intervention to end a person’s life with substances or external force, such as administering a lethal injection.
->Passive or negative or non-aggressive euthanasia is the denial of medical care necessary for maintaining life, such as the denial of antibiotics when the patient is likely to die without them.
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