MEDICAL LAW

Doctors are not bound by the living will of a patient seeking euthanasia, Centre tells SC

The government also told the court that it had prepared a draft Bill on withdrawal of medical support to terminally-ill patients.

The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that doctors are not obliged to follow the living will of a terminally-ill patient seeking euthanasia, News18 reported. A living will is a document in which patients tell doctors what kind of medical treatment they would like in case of a serious illness.

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition by non-governmental organisation Common Cause to declare the “right to die with dignity” a fundamental right under the Right to Life, which is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha, appearing for the government, told the court that the living will of a patient could be considered a factor, apart from medical opinion, in concluding whether life support could to be withdrawn from a terminally-ill patient, according to Live Law.

The government also told the court that it had prepared a draft Bill on withdrawal of medical support to terminally-ill patients. Currently, passive euthanasia, or the withholding treatment essential to life to a terminally-ill patient, is legal in India.

Prashant Bhushan, who represented Common Cause, argued in favour of active euthanasia. He said in cases where a patient can only live with pain and suffering, they must have the choice to decide whether they want to end their life. The counsel for Common Cause also asked the court why medical resources should be wasted on a person whose recovery had been completely ruled out.

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