SC to Change Onerous "Living Will" Regulations


ANI    18 January 2023

On Tuesday, the apex judicial body agreed to modify its 2018 guidelines on "living wills," an advance medical directive on end-of-life treatment. The Constitution Bench was debating a request to modify the standards for living wills and advance medical directives.


A five-judge Constitutional court comprising Justices Mr. KM Joseph, Mr. Ajay Rastogi, Mr. Aniruddha Bose, Mr. Hrishikesh Roy, and Mr. CT Ravikumar noted that the legislation has far more "skills and sources of information" than the executive to establish pertinent legislation for terminally ill patients who want to quit treatment.


According to the highest courts directives, a medical board must first pronounce that the patient has no chance of recovery or is brain dead, which must be followed by the district collector forming an impartial medical board to get a second opinion before referring the case to a court magistrate of the first class, as stated by Attorney Mr. Arvind.


The Supreme Courts ruling on March 9, 2018, stated that a terminally ill patient or a person in a persistent vegetative state may sign an advance medical directive or a "living will" to refuse medical treatment, maintaining that the right to live with dignity also included "smoothing" the dying process. The Supreme Court′s decision was based on a PIL filed by Common Cause, an NGO, that stated that patients requests for passive euthanasia should be recognized as "living wills."

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