THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government is all set to unveil guidelines for passive euthanasia and living will. It comes in the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s judgment in March which held the right to die with dignity as a fundamental right. A five-member committee headed by Pallium India chairman Dr M R Rajagopal is expected to submit the guidelines to the government on Friday.
“The judgment of the apex court runs into 538 pages and involves lots of technicalities, which a layman might find difficult to understand. The government machinery also has to be made aware of it and the procedures involved in the same. Thus a committee was constituted to look into the same,” said a Health Department officer.
As per sources, the committee had prepared the guidelines with certain recommendations, including how procedures such as passive euthanasia and living will be operated in the state. The committee is expected to list out the parameters and threshold values at which the directives to terminate life support will operate. It is said that once the guidelines get the government’s nod, they will be made available to persons who desire to prepare a living will.
It is learnt that the Health Department decided to constitute a committee after it was flooded with requests and queries regarding passive euthanasia and living will.“The committee was constituted on April 25. They were given a deadline of one month for the submission of the guidelines. Now, the committee has informed us that they will submit the guidelines along with their findings on Friday,” said Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan.
It is said that though the report was scheduled to be submitted on May 25, the committee was asked to hold the same as there were reports that the Union government was planning to come out with similar guidelines. But, the Centre hasn’t come out with anything so far. According to Rajagopal, as part of submitting the report, the committee held its final meeting on Wednesday.
The living will acts as a medical power of attorney that allows an individual to appoint a trusted person to make healthcare decisions when he/she is unable to take such decisions. According to the apex court, the will could be executed only by an adult who is in a sound and healthy state of mind. As per the judgment, the living will has to be signed by the executor in the presence of two attesting witnesses, preferably independent, and should have to be counter-signed by the jurisdictional Judicial Magistrate of First Class so designated by the district judge.