New Delhi: The proposed bill on passive euthanasia—or withdrawing medical support from a terminally-ill patient—ought to be scrapped and a better law needs to be drafted, a report released on Friday recommended.
The report analysed the draft of the Medical Treatment of Terminally-Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill, 2016, introduced last year by the ministry of health in order to address critical issues such as advance directives, or medical power of attorney, and other allied aspects of passive euthanasia.
The report, authored by a five-member team of the public health vertical at policy think tank Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, said the bill violated several key principles that should govern a decision regarding a terminally ill patient.
“Given its many problematic provisions, it is our recommendation that the Bill in its current form be scrapped, and a fresh Bill be drafted after carefully surveying comparable legislation in other jurisdictions," the 21-page report said.
The recommendations, part of a series of reports on the issue, point out that the proposed bill failed to protect the right to die with dignity, which is part of the fundamental right to life.
The Bill did not identify advance medical directives (or directions written by the patient in advance for a time when he/she may not have the mental competence to make decisions), which is crucial for patient autonomy, the report said.
The bill’s definition of ‘terminally ill’ was also flawed, according to the report.
The bill suffered from three key problems—poor drafting, interplay of this bill with the Mental Healthcare Bill and not recognising advance directives.
The report laid down six principles as guidelines for making a decision for a terminally ill patient to continue with medical treatment—autonomy, right to die with dignity, allowing patients to take informed decisions, exhausting all available options in the best interest of the patient, communications with family and friends and minimum judicial interference.