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India legalises 'passive euthanasia'

Landmark case centres on woman who was left paralysed following sexual attack 37 years ago.

Image: John Birdsall/John Birdsall/Press Association Images via PA images

PASSIVE EUTHANASIA HAS been legalised in India.

The decision came after the Indian journalist Pinki Virani petitioned to the Supreme Court on behalf of a woman named Aruna Shanbaug, who has been in a vegetative state for 37 years.

Ms Shanbaug was the victim of a sexual attack by a street sweeper 37 years ago and its severity led to her becoming paralysed and in a ‘vegetative’ state, AsianCorrespondent.com reports.

In 2009, journalist Pinki Virani, who wrote a book called Aruna’s Story, appealed to the Supreme Court on behalf of Ms Shanberg, asking for her not to be force-fed.

In her petition she stated:

This continued vegetative existence devoid of human dignity is not life at all and putting mashed food in her mouth only amounts to violation of human dignity.

Under the ruling, doctors and nurses can now petition to withdraw life support to aid ‘passive euthanasia’. ‘Active euthanasia’, where a substance is administered to bring on death, is still illegal in India.

But doctors in Mumbai have claimed that they would not petition for passive euthanasia in Ms Shanbaug’s case.

Ms Virani praised the court verdict but said that Ms Shanbaug is still suffering due to her condition.

Read Shayoni Sarkar’s story at AsianCorrespondent.com.>

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