Intended for healthcare professionals


Indian court says it may sanction euthanasia in the future

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 11 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1628
  1. Ganapati Mudur
  1. 1Delhi

India’s Supreme Court has declared that withdrawing life support to patients may be permitted in certain situations through a legal procedure, in a landmark ruling that the country’s medical community believes will provide guidance for care at the end of life.

On 7 March the court rejected a petition filed two years ago to withdraw feeding support from Aruna Shanbaug, a former nurse at the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai (Bombay), who has been in a persistent vegetative state since she was sexually attacked by a hospital cleaner in November 1973. But the court signalled that it would not rule out sanctioning some cases of euthanasia in the future if doctors approached the courts to request permission.

When she was attacked, …

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