Indian expert comments on the sentence on passive euthanasia
by Nirmala Carvalho

The Supreme Court of India allows biological testament for terminally ill patients. A bill "on the right to die with dignity" introduced in 1980’s. Fr Caesar D'Mello is the former rector of the seminary of the archdiocese of Mumbai.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "I have not been able to read the 538 pages of the sentence. I could only find the summary on Google ". This is what Fr. Caesar D'Mello, tells AsiaNews commenting on the Supreme Court ruling that legalized passive euthanasia for terminally ill patients in India.

The priest, who holds a doctorate in moral theology at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, says: "I believe the Supreme Court has given specific instructions on what needs to be done. For example, in the case of a coma, the person may decide not to be resuscitated, subject to haemodialysis or to risky, expensive or painful surgical procedures ".

On March 9 the supreme judges established the conditions for "accelerating the death of the patient", including the drafting of the living will, that is the consent to the interruption of medical treatment in the event of an irreversible coma. The debate on the law on living wills will then take place in Parliament.

Fr. Caesar is former rector and dean of the St. Pius X college, archdiocesan seminary of Mumbai, and currently parish priest of the church of St. Andrew of Bandra. In the 1980s, he explains, "a private member introduced a bill on the right to die with dignity, which seemed perfectly ok on the surface but when one read the detailed provisions of the bill what the bill was saying was that the medical practitioner who ultimately took the decision to end the life was not to be held responsible. I do not at this point in time remember the exact provisions ".

At that time, he continues, "Dr. Chicot Vaz and Dr. Eustace D'Souza, founding members of the Fiamac biomedical center (Federation Internationale des Associations Medical Catholique), asked for [the endorsement] of the living will or an 'advanced directive' [advance declaration of treatment, with which a person communicates the health treatment which he wants to be submitted in case of future illness, ed] ". With the ruling of March 9, "the patient could indicate in advance a guardian or a relative who makes decisions in his place, in case of unconsciousness". "With this judgment - concludes the priest - many hospitals should change the rules and establish independent ethics committees to decide on difficult cases".