Despite that "living will" seems to be a corollary to passive euthanasia, why there is opposition to living will? Critically examine.

Passive euthanasia, is the act of withdrawing life support to a terminally-ill patient. The Supreme Court of India legalised passive euthanasia by means of the withdrawal of life support to patients in a permanent vegetative state  in 2011 as as part of the verdict in a case involving Aruna Shanbaug, who had been in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) until her death in 2015.
A “living will” is a document prepared by a person in a healthy state of mind specifying that if s/he slides into a vegetative state because of an irreversible terminal illness, the debilitated existence should not be prolonged with the help of life support systems or other medical interventions.
Though this is a directive from the person for passive euthanasia and spare relatives and near ones from taking agonizing decision of removing life support and doctors will be guided solely by the “living will”., it is being opposed because:

  • The clause may be misused in future especially in case of rich and elderly.
  • Possibility coercion and fraud by greedy relatives exists.
  • Concerns have been expressed in determining the threshold pain at which life support system should be withdrawn.
  • Science has been making constant advancements and today’s incurable disease may become manageable in coming years.

Living Will is a complicated concept which needs to be studied in Indian social, cultural and legal context.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Despite that "living will" seems to be a corollary to passive euthanasia, why there is opposition to living will? Critically examine. The Hindu HT

Published: October 11, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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