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Why in the news?
Switzerland legalises suicide machine Sacro Pod
- Euthanasia is derived from two Ancient Greek words: ‘Eu’ means ‘good,’ and ‘thantos’ means ‘death,’ therefore Euthanasia literally means ‘good death.’ According to the method of death, euthanasia can be split into two forms.
- Active Euthanasia: ‘Positive Euthanasia’ or ‘Aggressive Euthanasia’ are other terms for it. It refers to the deliberate killing of a human person through direct intervention. It is a direct action taken to put an end to a pointless life and existence.
- For example, by administering lethal pharmacological doses or a lethal injection. Active euthanasia is a faster way to kill someone, and all types of active euthanasia are prohibited.
- Passive Euthanasia: ‘Negative Euthanasia’ or ‘Non-Aggressive Euthanasia’ are other terms for it. It is purposefully causing death by failing to provide basic, necessary, and routine medical care, as well as food and drink. It entails turning off, deactivating, or removing artificial life support systems. Passive euthanasia is typically slower and more painful than active euthanasia. The majority of kinds of voluntary, passive, and non-voluntary, passive euthanasia are lawful.
Is Euthanasia Legal?
- In the Netherlands and Belgium, euthanasia is legal. Physician-assisted suicide is legal in the United States, Switzerland, and Germany.
- In the famous Aruna Shanbaug case, the Supreme Court indirectly legalised passive euthanasia by laying down a comprehensive legal framework for proper safeguards and fair procedure.
- It had given a patient in a vegetative condition the right to have medication or food stopped.
- Obtaining authorization from a certified medical board and the state government under the auspices of the concerned high court is one of the precautions. By dismissing the petition, the Supreme Court fiercely denied any support for Active Euthanasia.
Aruna Shanbaug Case:
- On November 27, 1973, ArunaShanbaug was assaulted, leaving her blind, paralysed, and mute, and she went into a permanent vegetative state.
- The Supreme Court of India granted her request to end her life on December 16, 2009. The Supreme Court panel, which included the Chief Justice and Justices, decided to look into the petition’s merits and requested responses from the Union Government, the Mumbai Police Commissioner, and the Dean of KEM Hospital.
- The Supreme Court, on the other hand, rejected the mercy killing appeal and established standards for passive euthanasia. This case has forever transformed India’s attitude on the divisive issue of euthanasia. The decision in her case permits passive euthanasia in certain circumstances.
- England: Euthanasia is prohibited in the United Kingdom. Euthanasia is illegal and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. In the United Kingdom, assisted suicide is likewise prohibited.
- Australia: In 1996, the Northern Territory of Australia passed the Rights of the Terminally ILL Act, making it the first country to allow euthanasia. Although assisting in euthanasia is illegal in most Australian states, prosecutions are uncommon.
- Tasmania: In 2005, a nurse was found guilty of helping in the deaths of her mother and father, both of whom had incurable illnesses. She was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, but the court eventually overturned the sentence because he believed the community did not want her imprisoned.
- Albania: In 1999, Albania legalised euthanasia, stating that any method of voluntary euthanasia was permissible under the Terminally ILL Act of 1995. If three or more family members agree to the decision, passive euthanasia is considered legal.
- Belgium: In 2002, euthanasia became legal.
- Netherlands: In 2002, the Netherlands became the world’s first country to legalise both euthanasia and assisted suicide.
- Canada: Patients in Canada have the ability to decline life-sustaining therapies (Passive Euthanasia), but not to seek active euthanasia or aided suicide..
- United States of America: In the decisions Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill, the United States Supreme Court declared euthanasia to be completely illegal. Physician assisted suicide was permitted in 1994 in Oregon, a state in the United States, under the Death and Dignity Act. California became the second state to legalise assisted suicide when a legislative committee passed a bill in April 2005.
- Switzerland: Euthanasia is prohibited, but physician-assisted suicide is permitted. However, decriminalising euthanasia was attempted in 1997, with the recommendation that a non-physician assistant be penalised while the physician be exempt.
Rights, Cases and other Legal Provisions in India
- State of Maharashtra v. Maruti Shripati Dubal:The right to die or not die was first considered under Article 21 in the case State of Maharashtra v. MarutiShripatiDubal. The Bombay High Court ruled in this case that the ‘right to live’ included the ‘right to die,’ and Section 309 was repealed. In this instance, the court stated unequivocally that the right to die is not unnatural; rather, it is exceptional and atypical. The court also highlighted a number of scenarios in which a person would choose to end his life.
- Article 21:In the case of P. Rathinam v. Union of India, the Supreme Court upheld this. The Supreme Court’s five-judge panel in Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab, on the other hand, found that the “right to life” protected by Article 21 of the Constitution did not include the “right to die.” In this instance, the court stated unequivocally that Article 21 exclusively guarantees the right to life and personal liberty, and that the right to die cannot be included in it. Euthanasia is illegal in India, as it is in practically every other country.
- Under section 306 of the I.P.C., any act of assisting and abetting the commission of suicide is punishable.
- In NareshMaratraSakheevs Union of India, Justice Lodha noted that “suicide by its nature is an act of self-killing or self-destruction, an act of terminating one’s own act without the aid or assistance of any other human agency.”
- Mercy killing is nothing but homicide, whatever the circumstances in which it is affected.” It cannot constitute an offence until it is expressly approved. Abetment of homicide, as well as suicide, is punishable under the Indian Penal Code.”
- End of Pain:Euthanasia is a method of ending an individual’s unbearably severe pain and suffering. It allows terminally ill people to die sooner rather than later.
- Respecting Individual Choice: The core of human life is to live a dignified life, and forcing someone to live in an undignified manner is against their will. As a result, it expresses a person’s decision, which is a key value.
- Assistance to others: There is a scarcity of funds in many emerging and poor countries, such as India. There is a severe scarcity of hospital beds. As a result, instead of continuing the lives of individuals who desire to die, the energy of doctors and hospital beds can be used for those whose lives can be preserved.
- Dignified Death: Article 21 of the Indian Constitution clearly states that everyone has the right to a dignified death. A person has the right to live a life of at least minimal dignity, and if that standard is not met, that person should be given the option to end his or her life.
- Dealing with Mental Despair: The goal here is to help rather than harm. It not only soothes a patient’s severe pain, but it also relieves the mental torment of the patient’s relatives..
- Medical Ethics: Nursing, caregiving, and healing are all part of medical ethics, as is not ending a patient’s life. Medical technology is progressing at such a rapid rate that even the most terminal ailments are now curable. Rather than urging people to end their lives, medical professionals should encourage them to face their difficult lives with fortitude.
- Ethically and morally incorrect: Taking a life is unethical and morally wrong. Life’s worth can never be overstated.
- Vulnerable individuals will be more prone to it: Organizations that represent disabled persons are opposed to the legalisation of euthanasia, claiming that such groups of vulnerable people may feel compelled to choose euthanasia because they may perceive themselves as a burden to society.
- Suicide vs. Euthanasia: If suicide is prohibited, euthanasia should be prohibited as well. When a person is depressed and sees no way out of his situation, he commits suicide. When a person requests euthanasia, the situation is similar. However, by taking adequate care of such patients and showing hope in them, such a propensity can be reduced.
- X-Factor: Miracles do happen in our society, especially when it comes to life and death; there have been cases of patients waking up after years in a coma, and we must remember that human existence is all about hope.
- The court and the government must tread carefully in this area in order to strike a balance between individual rights and proper protections when formulating the law to avoid potential abuse.
- The government, for its part, is working on a passive euthanasia draught law titled Management of Patients with Terminal Illness-Withdrawal of Medical Life Support Bill 2018.
- The court must also determine when the living will be applicable, which is a major burden and onus on the medical board.
- Advance directives are not a new concept in Indian law; they were already popular in the new mental illness law. As an island of democracy amongst unstable neighbours and a model for the rest of the world, the executive and judiciary must work together to draught a forward-looking law with humanitarian considerations and strong safeguards.
Mains oriented question:
What is difference between euthanasia and suicide? What are the Legal provision associated with it in India evaluated with some example of case of euthanasia in India?