Legalizing Euthanasia in India

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Major debate kicked off on legalizing euthanasia in India when Pinki Virani, a Mumbai based journalist, Pinki Virani filed a plea to the Supreme Court of India on January 24, 2011, after 37 years of vegetative state of rape victim Aruna Shanbaug. Although, Aruna had to die from pneumonia, she gave India the gift of passive euthanasia (withdrawal of medical treatment). So, thanks to her and Pinki Virani, who fought the battle for Aruna and in-turn for India.

The biggest question that one must ask here is, whether it should be a right given to an individual to die.

Here are some major reasons that are in the public domain which claim euthanasia to be wrong…

  1. Right to Kill – Euthenasia or Passive Euthanasia gives direct and indirect power to the doctor to kill a patient, which raises questions about its moral justification
  2. Palliative Medicine – Palliative medicines, say medicine practitioners, alleviates most of the unpleasant symptoms of terminal illness, which thus makes euthanasia unnecessary and thus hope for the betterment of the patient. Like professor Steve Field, former Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners says that “assisted suicide is not the answer to the ills of our health system.”
  3. Misuse by Family: A family can misuse this right as they can persuade vulnerable people, mostly elders, to request for euthanasia so they can inherit the wealth
  4. Discouraging cure – Necessity is the mother of invention and that’s exactly how the medical research works. Finding a cure for ill person is more robust and euthanasia is definitely not so collaborative of this fact
  5. Confidence of Medicine – euthanasia leads to distrust in medicine by people as direct killing is scary as well as disheartening for people. The Hippocratic oath talks about not giving any deadly medicine to a patient under any circumstances.
  6. Controversial Requests – There are many countries like Holland and Belgium where people are requesting euthanasia, not for they are terminally ill, but because they feel abandoned or that they feel like a burden on their families. This is direct exploitation of elderly people.

For those in favor of Euthanasia, here are some arguments presented by them….

  1. Just how the Hippocratic oath makes sense above, it also makes sense when it says that, one would not keep a patient artificially alive, when death is preferable
  2. The uncertainties of life and unbearable pain and burden that it follows on a terminally ill patient like Aruna, makes it more evident that euthanasia should be a choice of the person or someone who can choose the right to exercise this on behalf of the patient, like a family member
  3. The fact that euthanasia encourages illegitimate pressure on the vulnerable elders, one has to consider that in 1998, Oregon in USA, became the first state to put in affect euthanasia, 10 years later, passive euthanasia stood at 341 lives. So, a fact and impact check here…
  4. Another opposing opinion on the debating point of euthanasia leading to murder of happy poor people due to pressure, statistics from euthanasia legal country Netherlands show that deaths from euthanasia in the country is 1.7 percent of all the accounted deaths.

Overall, if one has the choice of life, one should also have the choice to die. A close friend once responded to euthanasia by saying, “one should be free to kill himself/ herself as nobody asked us before giving us this life. We have been pushed into it without being given a choice.” Although philosophical, but it does make some sense, but then, sense is too objective, so to speak.

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