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Indian J Psychiatry. 2012 Apr;54(2):177-83. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.99537.

Euthanasia: An Indian perspective.

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  • 1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Central Institute of Psychiatry, Kanke, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India.


In our society, the palliative care and quality of life issues in patients with terminal illnesses like advanced cancer and AIDS have become an important concern for clinicians. Parallel to this concern has arisen another controversial issue-euthanasia or "mercy -killing" of terminally ill patients. Proponents of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) feel that an individual's right to autonomy automatically entitles him to choose a painless death. The opponents feel that a physician's role in the death of an individual violates the central tenet of the medical profession. Moreover, undiagnosed depression and possibility of social 'coercion' in people asking for euthanasia put a further question mark on the ethical principles underlying such an act. These concerns have led to strict guidelines for implementing PAS. Assessment of the mental state of the person consenting to PAS becomes mandatory and here, the role of the psychiatrist becomes pivotal. Although considered illegal in our country, PAS has several advocates in the form of voluntary organizations like "death with dignity" foundation. This has got a fillip in the recent Honourable Supreme Court Judgment in the Aruna Shaunbag case. What remains to be seen is how long it takes before this sensitive issue rattles the Indian legislature.


Euthanasia; palliative care; physician-assisted suicide

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