Days after the Supreme Court recognised the “living will” and allowed passive euthanasia, the Church on Monday said legalising the same would place the lives of vulnerable people at risk. In a statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) said no one has the right to ask for this act of killing, for ourselves or for those entrusted to our care. A five-judge bench, headed by CJI Dipak Misra, had last week laid down guidelines for passive euthanasia, until a suitable legislation is enacted by Parliament.
“In India, the sanctity of life has hitherto been placed on the highest level. The right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution does not include within its scope the right to die,” the Church said in a statement. “The taking of innocent life is never a moral act. Legalizing euthanasia would place the lives of vulnerable people at risk, including those whom others might be tempted to think would be better off dead.”
It added: “Better access to high quality palliative care, greater support for caregivers and enhanced end of life care will be the hallmark of a truly compassionate society. The mark of a good society is its ability and willingness to care for those who are most vulnerable.”
In a landmark ruling on March 9, the Supreme Court made it legal for terminally ill patients to decline the use of life support measures. It also granted families of those in an incurable coma to withdraw such measures in order to reduce the period of suffering. In its verdict, the bench said that the “right of a dying man to die with dignity when life is ebbing out, and in the case of a terminally ill patient or a person in permanent vegetative state, where there is no hope of recovery, accelerating the process of death for reducing the period of suffering constitutes a right to live with dignity”.