Physician-assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in Indian Context: Sooner or Later the Need to Ponder!

Khan, Farooq; Tadros, George
January 2013
Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine;Jan-Mar2013, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p101
Academic Journal
Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is a controversial subject which has recently captured the interest of media, public, politicians, and medical profession. Although active euthanasia and PAS are illegal in most parts of the world, with the exception of Switzerland and the Netherlands, there is pressure from some politicians and patient support groups to legalize this practice in and around Europe that could possibly affect many parts of the world. The legal status of PAS and euthanasia in India lies in the Indian Penal Code, which deals with the issues of euthanasia, both active and passive, and also PAS. According to Penal Code 1860, active euthanasia is an offence under Section 302 (punishment for murder) or at least under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder). The difference between euthanasia and physician assisted death lies in who administers the lethal dose; in euthanasia, this is done by a doctor or by a third person, whereas in physician-assisted death, this is done by the patient himself. Various religions and their aspects on suicide, PAS, and euthanasia are discussed. People argue that hospitals do not pay attention to patients' wishes, especially when they are suffering from terminally ill, crippling, and non-responding medical conditions. This is bound to change with the new laws, which might be implemented if PAS is legalized. This issue is becoming relevant to psychiatrists as they need to deal with mental capacity issues all the time.


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