On March 7, India's Supreme Court decided a landmark case that will allow life support to be legally removed from some terminally ill patients. The ruling involved the case of a woman who has been in a vegetative state since she was sexually assaulted and suffered brain damage 37 years ago. Her parents are dead, and a friend wanted hospital staff to stop "force-feeding" her mashed-up food. While the court ruled that Aruna Shanbaug be kept on life support, it distinguished between "active euthanasia" and "passive euthanasia," allowing the latter for certain terminally ill patients.
Until I read these reports, I had never heard the phrase "passive euthanasia," let alone grappled with whether or not I participated in some such cruelty.
It was nearly 20 years ago. An elderly relative had been badly deteriorating in a residential care facility for a few years when she was hospitalized with congestive heart failure. She was initially conscious, but quickly lapsed into a coma. Tests showed she ...1