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India Constitution judge panel to look into legalizing euthanasia

Feb. 25, 2014 at 6:28 AM

NEW DELHI, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- India's Supreme Court Tuesday asked a five-judge Constitution panel to decide if euthanasia can be permitted for the terminally ill.

Acting on a petition filed by a non-profit group, the high court said the law relating to the subject needs to be clearly defined due to inconsistent opinions in earlier verdicts on the subject, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

"This is an important question involving legal and medical issues. For the benefit of humanity, we refer this to a Constitution bench," NDTV quoted a bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam as saying.

The report said the five-judge panel will consider such issues as a "living will" or voluntary euthanasia in cases of those who are terminally ill or in a vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

The petition argued when expert medical opinion determines a person suffering from terminal illness has reached a point of no return, then the patient should be given the right to refuse to be put on life support, which would only prolong the agony.

The Indian government has said a decision to withdraw someone's life support system should be left to doctors, not the patient.

The high court said the Constitution panel will study all aspects of the issue before framing guidelines, PTI said.

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