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India's top court rejects 'mercy killing' but allows 'passive euthanasia'

March 07, 2011

The federal supreme court of India on Monday a plea to approve 'mercy killing' in a highly publicized case, but allowed for "passive euthanasia" by the removal of the patient's life-support system.

The Supreme Court made its ruling on the case of Aruna Shanbaug, a former nurse who has been living in a Mumbai Hospital for 37 years since a brutal attack left her with severe brain damage. The court congratulated the hospital staff for the loving care the patient had received over the years, but said life-support systems could be withdrawn, now that Shanbaug has become unresponsive.

The court rejected a bid to end the woman's life with a lethal injection. "Active euthanasia is illegal," the court ruled. "Passive euthanasia is permissible, but it should be done under the supervision of the High Court."


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