India joins nations that legalise euthanasia in some form

With the Supreme Court allowing "passive" euthanasia under "exceptional circumstances", India today joined a handful of countries which have legalised mercy killing in some form or other.

Last Updated: Mar 07, 2011, 16:24 PM IST

New Delhi: With the Supreme Court allowing
"passive" euthanasia under "exceptional circumstances", India today joined a handful of countries which have legalised mercy
killing in some form or other.

"Passive euthanasia" is usually defined as withdrawing
medical treatment with the deliberate intention of causing the
patient`s death. For example, if a patient requires kidney
dialysis to survive, the doctors disconnect the dialysis
machine, allowing the patient to die soon.

This form of euthanasia is different from "active"
euthanasia, or simply euthansia, where the death is caused by
the use of lethal substances.

It is widely considered to be criminal homicide, but
voluntary passive euthanasia is considered non-criminal in
several countries.

Euthanasia conducted with the consent of the patient is
termed "voluntary euthanasia", which is legal in Belgium,
Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the US states of
Oregon and Washington.

When the patient brings about his or her own death with
the assistance of a physician, the term "assisted suicide" is
often used.

If euthanasia is carried out on a patient, who is not in
a condition to express his or her desire to die, it is called
non-voluntary euthanasia.=

Examples include child euthanasia, which is illegal
worldwide but decriminalised under certain specific
circumstances in the Netherlands under the Groningen Protocol.
It`s also legal in Albania if three or more family
members consent to the decision.

Although both forms of euthanasia are illegal in
Switzerland, assisted suicide is penalised only if it is
carried out "from selfish motives".

In 1995, Australia`s Northern Territory had approved a
euthanasia bill. It went into effect in 1996, but Australian
Parliament overturned the bill the next year.
In Colombia, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of mercy
killing in 1997 and recommended removing penalties over it.
But, the ruling has not gone into effect as the Colombian
Congress is yet to approve guidelines for it.

It is illegal for anyone to actively contribute to
someone`s death in Ireland. However, it is not illegal to
remove life support and other treatment if a person requests
for it -- in other words, passive euthanasia is legal.

PTI