In the modern era, there is an intense focus on the foundation of individual autonomy. Citizens are given certain rights upon birth that cannot be alienated, including the right to life. Today, there is a great discussion on whether the right to life includes the right to death, as the same falls under the ambit of individual autonomy. Many are of the belief that the bodily autonomy one experiences in life should extend to their at death as well
It is a well-settled principle in the medical community that it is a physician’s duty to not only extend a patient’s life but to also free them from severe pain. As they are experts in the field of medicine, they should know best when and where they can and cannot save a life or mitigate suffering effectively. Nevertheless, this principle still makes it unclear whether they are suitable to deal with the active euthanasia or assisted suicide of a patient. If a patient expresses the desire to no longer receive treatment, what does a doctor do- fulfil the patient’s desire by assisting in their demise or go against the patient’s wishes by pumping them with medication?
This lacuna between a patient’s autonomy and their “right to life” deserves to be explored in depth.