Jean-Luc Godard, one of the legends of French New Wave cinema, died by assisted suicide at the age of 91. French newspaper Le Monde reported that the Godard family’s legal advisor, Patrick Jeanneret, has confirmed that the filmmaker died by assisted suicide.

Why are assisted suicide and euthanasia controversial topics?

  1. Assisted suicide and euthanasia, both practices under which a person intentionally ends their life with active assistance from others, have long been contentious topics of debate as they involve a complex set of moral, ethical and in some cases, religious questions.
  2. Several European nations, some states in Australia and Colombia in South America allow assisted suicide and euthanasia under certain circumstances. Euthanasia can further be divided into active and passive.
  3. The practice of passive euthanasia involves simply stopping lifesaving treatment or medical intervention with the consent of the patient or a family member or a close friend representing the patient.
  4. Active euthanasia, which is legal in only a few countries, entails the use of substances to end the life of the patient.

Does India allow assisted suicide or euthanasia?

  1. In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India legalised passive euthanasia in 2018, stating that it was a matter of ‘living will’.
  2. According to the judgment, an adult in his conscious mind is permitted to refuse medical treatment or voluntarily decide not to take medical treatment to embrace death in a natural way, under certain conditions.
  3. In the 538-page judgment, the court laid down a set of guidelines for ‘living will’ and defined passive euthanasia and euthanasia as well.
  4. It also laid down guidelines for ‘living will’ made by terminally ill patients who beforehand know about their chances of slipping into a permanent vegetative state.
  5. The court specifically stated that the rights of a patient, in such cases, would not fall out of the purview of Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Indian Constitution.