I have long contended that it’s unethical to compel doctors, whose very reason is to prolong life, to end it, either through the termination of pregnancy or euthanasia. The Mental Capacity Act raises the converse issue: Doctors can be stopped from providing life-preserving treatments by the wishes of their patients. Some might feel that this compromises their vocation as a doctor.
For me, the question then becomes: is acquiescing to a patient’s refusal of all interventions contrary to the dharma of a physician? Hinduism approaches it from the underlying philosophical principle that life belongs to the soul residing within the material body. The soul is an eternal spiritual entity and the body is a mechanical vehicle to be employed to best advantage whilst it lasts.