A MOTHER and her daughter, both suffering from a genetic disorder, have written to President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday, seeking permission for passive euthanasia — a condition where medical treatment is withdrawn with the deliberate intention to hasten the death of a terminally-ill patient. Residents of Yashoda Nagar in Kanpur city, Shashi Mishra (57) and Anamika (33) are suffering from muscular dystrophy — a disease that leads to increasing weakening and breakdown of skeletal muscles. On March 9, in a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court had recognised a ‘living will’ made by terminally-ill patients for passive euthanasia.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said passive euthanasia and advance living will be “permissible”. “The letter has been sent directly to the office of the President,” said City Magistrate Raj Narayan Pandey.
Since 2014, Anamika has been writing to the President, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chief Justice of India, stating that if arrangements could not be made for their treatment, they should be told how to end their lives.
“On Monday, I again wrote to them with the same demand after coming to know about the Supreme Court judgment. In yesterday’s letter, I requested them to allow us to opt for passive euthanasia,” said Anamika, who completed her graduation in 2005.
She added that Shashi was detected with muscular dystrophy in 1985 and has been bed-ridden for the last 27 years. “My father Ganga Sagar Mishra, a businessman, suffered from the same disease and died in 2002. I came to know in 2015 that I was also suffering from muscular dystrophy… For the last six years, I have not been out of bed,” said Anamika, adding that there is no other member in her family to look after them. “My neighbours help us with daily chores… they even to carry us to washroom. I call them for help. They also provide us food. No relatives stay with us,” said Anamika.
She added that in 2014, she received a letter from the Union government, stating that a financial assistance of Rs 50,000 has been granted to them. “Since the amount was not enough for my treatment, I refused to accept it. The state government, too, has not provided any financial help to us,” said Anamika. When contacted, Kanpur Additional City Magistrate Krishna Pal Singh said: “I had visited the family around four months ago when they sent a letter to the authorities stating they wanted to end their lives. I convinced the family not to take such a step then. The family did not handover any letter or demand financial help.” Living will, now recognised by the Supreme Court, is a written document that allows a patient to give explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered when he or she is terminally ill or no longer able to express informed consent.