Euthanasia – UPSC Ethics

Physician assisted death is ethical because-

    1. A person is not being able to live with dignity and liberty. Mental and physical trauma will increase or remain constant. Eg.- Aruna Shanbaugh who was in coma for 4 decades.
    2. Economic conditions of the family members will only worsen when there is almost no hope for patient to revive. They will always be in dilemma whether to look for patient or for their own economic condition.
    3. As there is no hope to revive even in long term, the equipment and services occupied by that person can be helpful to others(who at least have some hope) (utilitarian).
However it can be Unethical because-
    1. If intentions are to kill a person for some physical and material benefits. Eg. – a conspiracy by family members to capture property.
    2. It may be against persons/family/doctor religious, moral and professional beliefs. eg- Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other religions believe that God gives life and therefore only God should take it away. Also it is against doctors professional ethics to save life.
    3. It is against right to life which do not include right to die.
    4. It will be discrimination against physically ill person.
Because of the above reasons there is always conflict and dilemma over physician assisted death. If one has to take decision over it then it should be done on case by case basis with advice of medical and legal experts.


Discuss ethical and legal issues surrounding the proposed Medical Treatment of Terminally-Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill. (200 Words)
Ethical Issue
    1. Moral pressure – could be exerted on the terminally ill patient to choose to die.
    2. The sanctity of life – of human being is undermined.
    3. Deterioration of Healthcare by State – If euthanasia is legalized, then there is a huge apprehension that the State may refuse to invest in health. Legalized euthanasia has led to a severe decline in the quality of care for terminally-ill patients in Holland.
    4. Malafide Intention: There is a possibility of misusing euthanasia by family members or relatives for inheriting the property of the patient.
    5. Moral dilemma of relatives – to decide the death of a loved one, who is in extreme suffering.
Legal issue
    1. Detection and prosecution – of cases of manipulated euthanasia would be difficult as there is protection to Medical Practitioners.
    2. Abridging individual’s fundamental rights – Clause 9 of the bill allows medical personnel to apply in high court against the decision of the patient.
    3. Constitution and SC judgement – ‘Right to life’ is a natural right embodied in Article 21 and SC in Gian Kaur Case 1996 has held that “the right to life under Article 21 does not include the right to die”.



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