New Delhi: In a landmark judgement on Friday, the Supreme Court allowed passive euthanasia and said human beings have the right to die with dignity. The judgement comes after years of legal and moral tussle over whether terminally ill patients who cannot be helped by medicine and science be allowed to die if they so desire.
Euthanasia in itself is of two kinds - active and passive.
While passive euthanasia has been allowed in India and broadly means halting and removing artificial life-support machines, medicines and food which only prolong life for patients in vegetative state. On the other hand, active euthanasia - which is still not allowed in India and in most parts of the world - is the act of injecting lethal substances into patients in vegetative state. It is widely considered as an intentional act of causing death in patients and has raised moral questions and ignited debates worldwide.
In simpler terms, the difference between the two is also seen as the difference between 'letting die' and 'killing'. While countries like Belgium, The Netherlands, Colombia and Japan allow both forms of euthanasia, India now joins counties like Germany, Canada and South Africa in allowing only passive euthanasia.
The two forms of euthanasia are also different from assisted suicide and assisted dying. While assisted suicide is voluntarily helping someone commit suicide, assisted dying is a term used mostly in the US and UK and generally refers to helping terminally ill patients themselves commit suicide.