Dignified death for the living

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | INDULEKHA ARAKKAL
Published Mar 10, 2018, 12:24 am IST
Updated Mar 10, 2018, 12:25 am IST
Patient can prepare a will before becoming terminally ill, choosing not to stay in a vegetative state.
The court permitted the preparation of a ‘living will’ by the patient that will give the authorisation to remove all life support systems. 
 The court permitted the preparation of a ‘living will’ by the patient that will give the authorisation to remove all life support systems. 

HYDERABAD: In a landmark judgment that will ease the minds of many, the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra legalised Passive Euthanasia on Friday.

The court permitted the preparation of a ‘living will’ by the patient that will give the authorisation to remove all life support systems.

 

But this can be done only after permission from all family members and a medical board designed to look into the case is received. 

An NGO based in Delhi, Common Cause, had moved the court in 2005 with a plea to make living will a reality. Anumeha Jha, senior research analyst for the NGO, said that in 2016, the government’s medical Bill addressed passive euthanasia as it was after Aruna Shanbaug’s case.

“However, they made no mention of a living will. Our NGO wanted the concept of a living will which is an advanced directive when a patient, who is in control, prepares the will before he is terminally ill and chooses to not stay in a vegetative state. Everyone deserves to die peacefully,” Anumeha said.

She further stated that the delayed judgment would be a beacon of hope to many and as per the court orders, adults could prepare this will and not minors.

Relatives of patients normally seek mercy killing when they are unable to see their near ones suffering or lying in a vegetative state or do not have the financial support needed for treatment and also when they do not see a come back for terminally ill patients. 

“The court has understood that people are choosing to die with a strong reason. No one will want to simply end a life without a strong motive. 

There is hope now,” says Anamika Mishra, a mother from Kanpur, who penned down a letter seeking permission for mercy killing for her daughter suffering from Muscular Atrophy.

“It has been a long battle since 2014 when I asked PM Modi for permission. I lost my husband to the disease and it was sad to see my daughter go through the same pain and my financial conditions cannot ease her pain as well. The SC’s decision is a good one as mercy killing was considered a crime in India,” she said. 

Ward Number 4 of KEM Hospital might not be synonymous with Aruna Shanbaug’s home any longer, but KEM Hospital in Mumbai had inaugurated a library and a gym in honour of Aruna. Journalist and human-rights activist Pinki Virani had filed a petition in the Supreme Court for euthanasia for Aruna. The plea was rejected, which was then celebrated by the staff at KEM, who considered taking care of Aruna as their duty. 

“Euthanasia is a choice that either the victim or the individuals taking care of him/her can take. With all due respect, the Supreme Court cannot just make a judgment regarding euthanasia. Every medical case should be medically and socially studied before judgment. We cannot take a life but it should also be remembered that every human has a right to live and die healthy,” says the head nurse at KEM.

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Location: India, Telangana, Hyderabad




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