Karela Fry

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Landmark change in euthanasia law

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Livemint reports:

The Supreme Court on Monday said a terminally ill patient can be administered “passive euthanasia” in rare cases, a major shift in a country where such acts have long been illegal.

The apex court, however, rejected a plea to end the life of a woman who was brain damaged more than 30 years ago.

Aruna Shanbaug, 60, a former nurse, suffered massive brain injuries during a brutal sexual assault in 1973, leaving her unable to talk, move or eat on her own.

Since then, she has been looked after by the medical staff at the Mumbai hospital where she worked and where she was raped.

“Passive euthanasia entails withholding of medical treatment for continuance of life,” the court said in its judgment.

Shanbaug’s care givers insist she has some level of understanding despite her injuries and is even able to indicate what food and music she enjoys through facial expressions. She has mostly been fed with a spoon since the attack, they say, though recently feeding tubes have been used.

But a journalist who has written extensively about the case insisted she is in a vegetative state and should be allowed to “die with dignity” by stopping all feeding. Journalist Pinki Virani filed the request in 1999.

But justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra agreed with Shanbaug’s doctors and nurses and said her care should continue.

That was a first for the Indian courts, which have repeatedly denied any legal right to removing life support over the years.

The ruling said, though, that “active euthanasia,” where someone is killed with a lethal injection, remains illegal in all cases.

A very enlightening discussion can be viewed on NDTV.


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

March 7, 2011 at 6:09 pm

One Response

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  1. […] See reports on the landmark final judgement. […]

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