A ruling by India's Supreme Court that allows euthanasia for the terminally ill has been criticised by the Church, which says that the mark of good society is its ability and willingness to care for the most vulnerable of society. Source: Vatican News.
“The Church rejects any proposal concerning active euthanasia as well as passive euthanasia,” read a note signed by Fr Stephen Fernandes, national secretary of the Office for Justice, Peace and Development of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI).
In a landmark verdict on Friday, India's apex court ruled that individuals had a right to die with dignity, allowing passive euthanasia with guidelines. The court also permitted individuals to draft a “living will” specifying that they not be put on life support if they slip into an incurable coma.
The five-judge Constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice of India said, “human beings have a right to die with dignity”. Passive euthanasia will be applicable to only a terminally ill person with no hope for recovery, the court said.
Fr Fernandes wrote, “No one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a foetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying.” He said that in their decision, the five judges laid down the conditions for euthanasia, which allow the interruption of medical care.
According to the teaching of the Church, “No one has the right to ask for this act of killing for ourselves or for those entrusted to our care.”
Fr Fernandes noted that “In India, the sanctity of life has hitherto been placed on the highest level.”
According to the Indian bishops, “Legalising euthanasia would place the lives of vulnerable people at risk, including those whom others might be tempted to think would be better off dead.”
“Better access to high quality palliative care, greater support for care givers and enhanced end of life care will be the hallmark of a truly compassionate society,” Fr Fernandes said.
“The mark of a good society is its ability and willingness to care for those who are most vulnerable.”
Indian Catholic Church opposes passive and active euthanasia (Vatican News)