Death on Demand; A Comparison between Euthanasia Laws in the Netherlands and India, 2001 to 2020

Document Type : Original Article


1 MD Community Medicine, Department of Community Medicine, PK DAS Institute of Medical Sciences, Palakkad, Kerala, India

2 DNB General Surgery, Department of General Surgery, PK DAS Institute of Medical Sciences, Palakkad, Kerala, India


Euthanasia is the act or practice of painlessly putting to death persons suffering from incurable and distressing disease as an act of mercy. This act is illegal in many countries as it is against medical ethics. It has been legalised in few countries during the early 21st century.
The objective of this article is to review the current status of euthanasia, the status of the act in the Netherlands and to compare the same with the laws in India. It is also aimed at giving an analytical review of the laws in the two countries during the period 2001 to 2020.
Euthanasia in the Netherlands is regulated by the “Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act”, 2002. The numbers of requests in the Netherlands for euthanasia have risen to more than double over the period of ten years and as seen the numbers of requests fulfilled have not followed the same trend over these years.
In India, the act of euthanasia has been classified as unethical except in cases where the life support system is used only to continue the cardio-pulmonary actions of the body. In such cases, subject to the certification by the term of doctors, the life support system may be removed. Passive euthanasia is permissible under the supervision of law in exceptional circumstances. There are various arguments for euthanasia based on principles of autonomy whereas the central argument against legalizing euthanasia is society’s view of the sanctity of life.


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