Health Minister Harsh Vardhan calls for a debate on euthanasia

Media in India discuss euthanasia legalisation as health minister Harsh Vardhan calls for a debate on the issue.

Euthanasia is the termination of a very sick person’s life in order to relieve them of their suffering, and is currently illegal in India.

Dr Vardhan, who is also a medical doctor, says “a consensus should be developed on whether to allow the killing of terminally ill people with no chances of revival”.

His statement comes days after the Supreme Court asked state governments to submit their views on the issue.

The Mint newspaper reported on Wednesday that the court was responding to a petition filed by the Delhi-based NGO Common Cause, which wants the right to refuse treatment and the right to die with dignity to be incorporated in the law.

“It is a complex issue. There should not be any hurry to decide on this highly emotive subject,” Dr Vardhan said.

The minister said there was a need to examine the pros and cons of the issue, including cultural attitudes and patients’ rights, before deciding “whether society is prepared for such a move”.

In other news, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s federal investigative agency, has temporarily suspended its probe into the deaths and gang rape of two teenagers in Badaun district in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

The girls, who belonged to a low caste, were found hanged from a tree in May, in a case that caused global outrage and led to the CBI taking over the investigation from the state police.

The agency has suspended its probe because the girls’ graves are now submerged under rising river waters and the bodies cannot be exhumed for a fresh autopsy, the NDTV website reports.

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