Aruna's nurses celebrating the decision 

Aruna Shanbaug, the brain-damaged woman who
has lived in a Mumbai hospital for 38 years, should continue to live, the
Supreme Court of India has ruled. Since the hospital staff are effectively her
“next of kin”, a request for euthanasia made on Aruna’s behalf by activist
Pinki Virani was turned down.

The nurses at King Edward Memorial Hospital
had fiercely resisted an attempt by an
activist to remove Aruna’s feeding tube so that she can starve to death. The
justices praised their dedication in their judgement.

“The whole
country must learn the meaning of dedication and sacrifice from the KEM
hospital staff. In 38 years Aruna has not developed one bed sore,” the judges
said. They praised “their noble spirit and outstanding, exemplary and
unprecedented dedication in taking care of Aruna for so many long years. Every
Indian is proud of them.”

This was the
best-ever present for International Women’s Day, the nurses declared. “Aruna was ours, and
will always remain so,” said Agnes Thomas, a nurse who has been working
in the hospital for the last 35 years. “Her family stopped visiting her
some years ago. She belongs to our family. We are not under any obligation to
care for her but we do it because we feel a kinship towards her.”

And Dr Sanjay
Oak, dean of the hospital, told the media: “It was not a matter of
victory or defeat. I am happy that humanity has won.”

FOR LEGAL ANALYSIS OF JUDGEMENT, SEE NEXT POST

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.