Euthanasia, also called mercy killing, act or practice of painlessly putting to death persons suffering from a painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder or allowing them to die by withholding treatment or withdrawing artificial life-support measures.
Euthanasia may be classified according to consent into three types -
1. Voluntary euthanasia- when the person who is killed has requested to be killed.
2. Non-voluntary euthanasia- when the person who is killed made no request and gave no consent.
In other words, it is done when the person is unable to communicate his wishes, being in a coma.
3. Involuntary euthanasia- when the person who is killed made an expressed wish to the contrary. In other words, it is involuntary when the person killed gives his consent not to die.
Euthanasia can be also divided into two types according to means of death.
1. Active euthanasia- it is also known as ‘Positive Euthanasia’ or ‘Aggressive Euthanasia’. It refers to causing the intentional death of a human being by direct intervention. It is a direct action performed to end a useless life and meaningless existence. For example by giving a lethal dose of a drug or by giving a lethal injection. Active euthanasia is usually a quicker means of causing death and all forms of active euthanasia are illegal.
2. Passive euthanasia- it is also known as ‘Negative Euthanasia’ or ‘Non-Aggressive Euthanasia’. It is intentionally causing death by not providing essential, necessary and ordinary care or food and water. It implies to discontinuing, withdrawing or removing artificial life support system. Passive euthanasia is usually slower and more uncomfortable than active. Most forms of voluntary, passive and some instances of non-voluntary, passive euthanasia are legal.
On 9 March 2018, the Supreme Court of India legalized passive euthanasia by means of the withdrawal of life support to patients in a permanent vegetative state. The decision was made as part of the verdict in a case involving Aruna Shanbaug, who had been in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) until her death in 2015.
Since March 2018, passive euthanasia is legal in India under strict guidelines. Patients must consent through a living will, and must be either terminally ill or in a vegetative state.
The difference between "active" and "passive" euthanasia is that in active euthanasia, something is done to end the patient's life, while in passive euthanasia, something is not done that would have preserved the patient's life. Passive euthanasia is withdrawing medical treatment with a deliberate intention of causing the patient's death.
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