What is euthanasia?
Euthanasia is a medical term meaning ‘easy death’. It is the act of deliberate or voluntary end of someone’s life to prevent any further suffering or pain to the person.
What are different types of euthanasia?
  • Positive/Active Euthanasia : When the medical professionals, or another person, deliberately do something that causes the patient to die.(capital punishment)
  • 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 like switch off life-support machines, disconnect a feeding tube etc.
  • Living will Euthanasia : In which a person makes an advance declaration that if during his treatment, it becomes clear that there is no chance of revival, he should not be put on life support system or ventilator
Should Euthanasia be legal?
Arguments For Euthanasia:
  • It provides a way to relieve extreme pain.
  • It provides a way of relief when a person’s quality of life is low.
  • Frees up medical funds to help other people.
  • It is another case of freedom of choice.
Arguments Against Euthanasia:
  • Euthanasia devalues human life.
  • Euthanasia can become a means of health care cost containment.
  • Physicians and other medical care people should not be involved in directly causing death.
  • There is a “slippery slope” effect that has occurred where euthanasia has been first been legalized for only the terminally ill and later laws are changed to allow it for other people or to be done non-voluntarily.
Supreme Court’s views on this matter:
Previously in 2011, in Aruna Shanbaug case the Court had ruled in favour of passive euthanasia and the law ministry had opined that the SC’s “directions should be followed”.
  • In its landmark 2011 verdict that was notable for its progressive, humane and sensitive treatment of the complex interplay of individual dignity and social ethics, the Supreme Court laid down a broad legal framework.
  • It ruled out any backing for active euthanasia, or the taking of a specific step such as injecting the patient with a lethal substance, to put an end to a patient’s suffering, as that would be clearly illegal.
  • It allowed ‘passive euthanasia’, or the withdrawal of life support, subject to safeguards and fair procedure.
  • It made it mandatory that every instance should get the approval of a High Court Bench, based on consultation with a panel of medical experts.
Related Question:
Highlighting the Supreme Court of India’s view, critically comment on the ethical aspects of administering euthanasia to a person or person’s nearest relative or friend seeking it. (200 Words)

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