Living Wills in India: A Safeguard to a Patient's Right to Death with Dignity
15 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2013
Date Written: August 5, 2013
With the growth of human rights in recent times, the right to a death with dignity has gained recognition in connection with euthanasia. In medical ethics, this right is closely linked to the central principle of self-determination or patient autonomy. In India, the landmark Supreme Court judgement of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India and Ors. recognized this right and legalized passive euthanasia in 2007.
Through this paper, we will attempt to analyze the judgement’s effectiveness in protecting a patient’s right to death with dignity. We will question whether the method suggested by the Supreme Court is in compliance with the highly important medical ethics principle of a patient’s right to self-determination and autonomy and whether this principle could be better achieved through the implementation of living wills in India. We will therefore attempt to analyze methods for the implementation of the machinery that such living wills would require by examining the machinery for the same in other countries. Through this paper, we hope to develop a method for securing the autonomy and right to death with dignity of every patient.
Keywords: Living wills, death with dignity, euthanasia, India, Aruna Shanbaug, Gian Kaur, Airdale, self-determination, Mental Capacity Act
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