Law Commission bats for comprehesive law on passive euthanasia

Batting for a comprehensive law on passive euthanasia, the Law Commission has come out in support of a Supreme Court judgement allowing withdrawal of life-support measures of a dying patient with certain safeguards, saying it is 'not objectionable' from legal and constitutional angles.

In its report on "passive euthanasia", the panel has recommended that government evolve a comprehensive law in this regard.

It said a "competent" adult patient who can take an informed decision, has the right to insist that there should be no invasive medical treatment by way of artificial life sustaining measures.

The report, presented to the government in August 2012, was tabled in Parliament today.

The panel, which advises government on complex legal issues, said such a decision is binding on doctors or hospital attending to such patient provided that the doctor is satisfied that the patient has taken an "informed decision based on free exercise of his or her will."

The Commission said the same rule will apply to a minor above 16 years of age who has expressed his or her wish not to have such treatment provided the consent has been given by one of the parents of such patient.

The panel said if patients cannot take a decision on their own, then the decision of the doctors or relatives to withhold or withdraw the medical treatment will not be final.
"The relatives, next friend, or the doctors concerned or hospital management shall get the clearance from the High Court for withdrawing or withholding the life sustaining treatment," it recommended.

It suggested provisions for protection of medical practitioners and others who act according to the wishes of the competent patient or the order of the High Court from criminal or civil action.

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