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szdaily -> Kaleidoscope -> 
Court allows passive euthanasia
    2018-03-13  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

IN a landmark judgment, the Indian Supreme Court on Friday recognized that a terminally ill patient can write a “living will” that permits doctors to withdraw life support, saying a person with no will to live shouldn’t suffer in a comatose state.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said passive euthanasia and advance living will be “permissible.”

Passive euthanasia, as it is called, will apply only to a terminally ill person with no hope of recovery, the panel said. Active euthanasia, by administering a lethal injection, continues to be illegal in India.

The bench was hearing a PIL (public interest litigation) filed by the Common Cause NGO, saying safeguards were needed while taking a decision by medical boards to withdraw life support of a terminally ill patient.

Pinky Virani, who had filed a petition in the Supreme Court on behalf of Aruna Shanbaug, the King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital nurse who was raped and rendered comatose for 40 years, lauded the judgment, and said credit for the court’s order goes to Shanbaug.

Shanbaug was raped on the night of Nov. 27, 1973, by Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki, a ward boy who worked on contract at the KEM Hospital. Sohanlal attacked her while she was changing clothes in the hospital basement.

He choked her with a dog chain and sodomized her. The asphyxiation cut off oxygen supply to her brain.

After the brutal assault Shanbaug was admitted to the same hospital. For 42 years, she was in the same Ward 4 in a comatose state.

Following the attack, nurses in Mumbai went on strike, demanding improved conditions at the hospital for Shanbaug and better working conditions for themselves.

In the early 80s, BMC officials made attempts to free the bed that Shanbaug was occupying for more than seven years, but the nurses of the hospital protested and the BMC’s plan was rejected.

In May 2011, the Supreme Court rejected the mercy killing petition of Shanbaug.

Hospital staffers had criticized the petitioner, Virani, an author and journalist, and alleged she was only interested in “making money” out of Aruna’s plight.

(SD-Agencies)

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