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Types of Euthanasia

Euthanasia refers to the deliberate action of causing the death of a person who is suffering from a terminal illness or unbearable pain, typically with their explicit consent. There are different types of euthanasia, classified based on the level of involvement of the person seeking death and the actions taken by others. The main types of euthanasia include:

Voluntary Euthanasia:

  • This occurs when a competent and consenting individual requests assistance in ending their own life due to unbearable suffering or a terminal condition.

Non-voluntary Euthanasia:

  • Non-voluntary euthanasia involves ending the life of a person who is not able to provide informed consent, and there is no clear directive regarding their wishes. This may be the case for individuals with severe cognitive impairments or advanced dementia.

Passive Euthanasia:

  • Passive euthanasia refers to the withholding or withdrawal of medical treatment or life-sustaining measures with the intention of allowing a person to die naturally. This can include turning off life support systems, withdrawing medication, or refusing further medical interventions.

Active Euthanasia:

  • Active euthanasia involves a deliberate intervention to cause the death of a patient, such as administering a lethal dose of medication. This is often considered more controversial and is illegal in many jurisdictions.

Active Euthanasia

In the Aruna Shanbaug case, a landmark in Indian jurisprudence, the Supreme Court distinguished between active and passive euthanasia.

The key difference lies in the fact that “active” involves a deliberate action to end life, while “passive” involves the omission of an action.

The apex court in Aruna Shanbaug vs Union of India laid down specific procedures and guidelines for granting passive euthanasia in the “rarest of rare circumstances,” rejecting the petitioner’s plea.

It clarified that decisions regarding the withdrawal of life support could be made by the High Court under Article 226.

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