Pune: City-based activists, doctors and lawyers have welcomed the Supreme Court’s (SC) order on passive euthanasia, terming it as a step in the right direction which gives individuals the right to die with dignity. In a landmark judgement by Supreme Court on Thursday, it has permitted the creation of a ‘living will’ that will allow individuals to decide against artificial life support.
Dr Priyadarshini Kulkarni, city-based palliative care consultant and former secretary of the Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC), said that in palliative care patient population, this is very important and will allow any person of the conscious mind to refuse aggressive life prolonging medical treatment.
“Prolonging medical treatment can otherwise be suffering. Such person can decide to allow embracing a natural course of death. This is lawful and legally permissible in this country now with this judgement. This also says that when patients are incompetent to take an informed decision, the decision should be taken by a panel of specified competent medical experts, based on the best interest principle,” said Kulkarni.
Reacting to the judgement, Sangita Lote, wife of late Dr Bharat Lote, a medical officer in the Maharashtra Health Department who died of pancreatic cancer last year, said, “My husband who died last year had demanded mercy killing mainly because the treatment was becoming unaffordable. A person should have the right to die but lack of money for treatment should not be a reason for it.” Late Dr Lote was a medical officer at a primary health centre in a village in Ratnagiri. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had released a video demanding euthanasia. He later succumbed to the disease.
Speaking about the judgement, Advocate Asim Sarode said that allowing passive euthanasia is a progressive step taken by the Supreme Court which will allow people to live with dignity. “Till the bill is passed in the assembly, the guidelines that it has laid down will be important,” he added.
Sharing similar sentiments, Dr Anant Phadke who is a member of SATHI, a centre working for betterment in the health sector said that the step is welcome. “It is an important step in the right direction and with guidelines in place, it cannot be misused,” he said.