Divergence of Approaches on Euthanasia in India and Europe: An Empirical Study on Ethical Palatability among Indian Medical Practitioners


  • Dr. Siddharth Kanojia


Euthanasia is referred as an act or practise of mercifully ending the lives of those who are afflicted with a physically debilitating illness, a painful and incurable sickness, or both by withholding treatment or removing mechanical life support. It is further categorized as either passive euthanasia or active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia involves withholding life-sustaining treatment, active euthanasia, on the other hand, entails the employment of deadly means of causing death (Chao et al., 2002). The legal & moral debate around euthanasia centres on the ethical questions of whether it should be morally permissible to end a person's life and whether it should be made legal for medical practitioners to assist in ending a person's life. Those who support euthanasia argue that it can alleviate suffering and provide individuals with the right to die with dignity. Nevertheless, the critics of euthanasia contends that wilfully ending a life is immoral and that doing so might result in abuse and a curtailment in the value of human life. In many countries, the legality of euthanasia remains a contentious issue, with some countries allowing it under certain circumstances and others completely prohibiting it. The debate continues to spark heated discussions and disagreements among both the public and political spheres. Lately, euthanasia is legal in the few of the countries such as Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Colombia, Oregon, Washington (U.S) (Cohen-Almagor, 2008). Whereas, In India, euthanasia is illegal and considered a criminal offense u/s 309 of the IPC 1860 i.e., Indian Penal Code. The Supreme Court of India has repeatedly ruled against allowing euthanasia, stating that it is against the country's tradition and values to intentionally end a life (Walia, 2010). However, there have been recent discussions about the need for a more compassionate approach towards patients with terminal illnesses and unbearable suffering, and thus, several practitioners have demanded that euthanasia be made legal under certain situations. Despite these debates, the legal status of euthanasia in India remains unchanged and it is still considered a criminal act. Therefore, considering the apparent discordant between the legal and practical admissibility of euthanasia, this paper intends to gather the prevalent opinion on euthanasia from its direct stakeholders. Accordingly, the paper shall summarizes the level of awareness and ethical palatability of active and passive euthanasia among the selected group of medical practitioners i.e., doctors, nursing staff and psychiatrists.