Safeguards the only issue in euthanasia–Economic Times–13.10.2017

As the Supreme Court makes up its mind on the propriety of allowing living wills, which allow individuals to direct, in advance, those responsible to remove artificial life support in certain circumstances, it must attain clarity on one question: how does this take matters beyond what is already allowed under the current rules that allow a team of doctors to determine that a patient on life support cannot be resuscitated and then take the patient off life support with the consent of the relatives?

The only difference would seem to be in the case of individuals with no relatives on hand to give consent to terminal action: the patient’s own advance consent could stand in for the missing relatives’ nod instead. Individual dignity calls for a whole lot more.

The right to speak does not compel anyone to keep on talking. The right to travel does not condemn anyone to a peripatetic existence. The right to pursue a profession does not mean that no one can retire. The right to do anything implies the right to not do it as well. That is why the right to education has to be complemented by compulsory education, to make sure every child goes to school. And the right to vote does not mean compulsory voting. The right to life, therefore, grants the right to die as well. The essential instinct to live is strong in living things, which is why only those who consciously seek transcendence of corporeal existence can contemplate dying, even in the absence of any particular source of misery.

But if painful ill-health necessitating dependence that destroys dignity makes anyone seek death, the law should not stand in the way.

Living wills should be allowed, not only for passive euthanasia but for active ending of life as well. The only question is safeguards to make sure that such a decision is purely voluntary.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Economic Times.
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via Safeguards the only issue in euthanasia

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