Euthanasia: Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering.
Passive euthanasia: –
Passive euthanasia occurs when the patient dies because the medical professionals either don’t
do something necessary to keep the patient alive, or when they stop doing something that is
keeping the patient alive.
• switch off life-support machines
• disconnect a feeding tube
• don’t carry out a life-extending operation
• don’t give life-extending drugs
Ethical implications: –
1. The moral difference between killing and letting die: –
Many people make a moral distinction between active and passive euthanasia.
They think that it is acceptable to withhold treatment and allow a patient to die, but that it is
never acceptable to kill a patient by a deliberate act.Some medical people like this idea. They
think it allows them to provide a patient with the death they want without having to deal with the
difficult moral problems they would face if they deliberately killed that person.
2. Acts and omissions: –
This is one of the classic ideas in ethics. It says that there is a moral difference between
carrying out an action, and merely omitting to carry out an action.
This doctrine makes an ethical difference whether an agent actively intervenes to bring about a
result, or omits to act in circumstances in which it is foreseen that as a result of the omission the
same result occurs.
Judicial implications: –
• The court has invoked its inherent power under Article 142 of the Constitution to
grant legal status to advance directives.
• Directives will hold good until Parliament enacts legislation on the matter.
• The government submitted that it was in the process of introducing a law to regulate passive euthanasia but opposed the concept of advance directive on the ground that it was liable to be misused.
Implications on Human rights: –
The Supreme Court’s verdict allowing passive euthanasia and giving legal status to ‘advance
directives’ is that the right to a dignified life extends up to the point of having a dignified
• Balance in the relationship between life, morality and the experience of dying”.
• The outcome of the exercise is progressive and humane.
• The core message is that all adults with the capacity to give consent “have the right of
self determination and autonomy”.
• Burdening a dying patient with
life-prolonging treatment and equipment merely because medical technology has
advanced would be destructive of her dignity.
• In such a situation, “individual interest has to be given priority over the state interest”.
• The stringent conditions imposed by the court regarding advance directives are
intended to serve as a set of robust safeguards and allay any apprehensions about misuse.
Safeguards proposed by SC: The Supreme Court came out with safeguards on “advance medical directive” or ‘living will’ which would enable a terminally-ill patient or a person in persistent vegetative state (PVS) to refuse medical treatment.It will be open to the executor to revoke the document at any stage before it is acted upon and implemented.The safeguards would remain in force till Parliament adopts a legislation on the matter.