Indian court issues 'passive euthanasia' ruling

BANGALORE, India -- The Supreme Court of India has rejected the plea for mercy killing for a nurse who has been in a semi-comatose condition for 37 years.

However, the court set out guidelines for passive euthanasia -- "withholding of medical treatment for continuance of life, e.g. withholding of antibiotics where without giving it a patient is likely to die, or removing the heart lung machine, from a patient in coma" -- and said passive euthanasia would now become law until Parliament enacts legislation to deal with the issue.

The ruling came March 7 in a petition on behalf of 63-year-old Aruna Shanbaug, who has been in a persistent vegetative state since 1973 in King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. She slipped into that state after being deprived of oxygen during an assault at the same hospital.

We say: Charlottesville reveals the weeping wound of racism. What do we, the American Catholic faith community, do next? Read the editorial.

While delivering the judgment, the court congratulated the hospital and its staff for the "loving care" extended to the nurse. As the news of the court ruling was announced, hospital staff gathered to celebrate.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, told Catholic News Service, "The church is happy and relieved that the court has rejected this (mercy killing) plea."

The cardinal said he was disappointed by the part of the verdict allowing passive euthanasia, since "allowing one to die amounts to actively supporting taking away one's life."

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.