"Right to Die": Supreme Court Simplifies Guidelines on Living Will and Advance Directive
04-Feb-2023 | Article by Legal White Official
The Supreme Court of India recently made a landmark decision to make it easier for individuals to opt for passive euthanasia. This decision simplifies the guidelines on living will and advance directive that were established in 2018. Passive euthanasia is the act of withdrawing medical treatment with the intention of hastening the death of a terminally ill person, who is unable to make decisions for themselves.
The Supreme Court's decision has been met with mixed reactions, with some hailing it as a step towards the recognition of an individual's autonomy and dignity, while others criticize it as a slippery slope towards voluntary euthanasia.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a legal document that outlines an individual's wishes regarding medical treatment in the event that they become unable to make decisions for themselves. It is often used by terminally ill patients who do not want to be kept alive through artificial means if they are in a vegetative state. In India, a living will can only be made by a person who is of sound mind, and who is not being coerced or influenced by any other person.
What is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is similar to a living will, but it also includes the appointment of a proxy or an executor who will make decisions on behalf of the individual if they become unable to do so. The proxy must act in accordance with the individual's wishes, as outlined in the advance directive.
What are the Simplified Guidelines on Living Will and Advance Directive?
The Supreme Court's recent decision simplifies the guidelines on living will and advance directive by making the process more streamlined and accessible. The court has made it easier for individuals to make a living will or an advance directive by removing some of the procedural hurdles that were previously in place.
Additionally, the court has made it mandatory for hospitals to set up a medical board to assess the validity of a living will or an advance directive. The board will be responsible for determining if the individual is indeed in a vegetative state and if the living will or advance directive is valid.
What are the Implications of the Supreme Court's Decision?
The Supreme Court's decision to simplify the guidelines on living will and advance directive has far-reaching implications for the medical community and individuals alike. For the medical community, it will make it easier to comply with the wishes of terminally ill patients and provide them with a dignified death. For individuals, it will provide them with more control over their medical treatment and ensure that their autonomy and dignity are respected.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court's decision to simplify the guidelines on living will and advance directive is a positive step towards the recognition of an individual's autonomy and dignity. It provides individuals with more control over their medical treatment, and it will make it easier for the medical community to comply with the wishes of terminally ill patients. This decision will go a long way in ensuring that individuals are able to die with dignity, in accordance with their wishes.