ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Right to a Dignified Death

When citizens are not guaranteed the right to health, can they be denied the right to die?

The debate over the right of individuals to a dignified death has opened up again following the recent appeal for euthanasia by a couple in Mumbai. The possibility that the Medical Treatment of Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill, 2016 could be passed by Parliament has also provided the context for public discussion on the issue.

On 21 December 2017, Narayan Lavate (86) and his wife Iravati (79) wrote to the President of India seeking permission to end their lives through medical intervention. They declared that they have had a happy life, were in reasonably good health, and had no dependents or liabilities. It would be unfair, they argued, to force them to continue waiting to die of serious ailments, which would leave one of them bereaved and destined to a lonely death. Before this, in 1977, C A Thomas Master had moved the Kerala High Court seeking permission to end his life, arguing that he had fulfilled his life’s mission and had no desire to live any longer. In 2000, the court dismissed the petition. Meanwhile, Karibasamma from Karnataka, in her late 70s and fighting excruciating pain from an intervertebral disc prolapse, waits for a time when the law will allow her an honourable death. All three cases voice a common demand for the right to die with honour.

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Updated On : 10th Feb, 2018
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