Euthanasia

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    In Context

    • Recently, Bengaluru woman goes to Delhi HC to stop friend’s euthanasia trip to Europe.

    About 

    • According to a petition filed before the court, the man has been suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome since 2014 and is allegedly planning to travel to Switzerland for a physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia — an option not available in India to a person who is not terminally ill.
      • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a “complex, debilitating, long-term neuro inflammatory disease”.
    • Aruna Shanbaug Case: In India, the issue of euthanasia was heard in the Supreme Court (SC) and final judgment came in the year 2018 making the Right to die in a dignified way a part of Right to Life under Article 21.
      • As of now, only passive Euthanasia is allowed in India by the Supreme Court.

    Euthanasia

    • Greek words: The term Euthanasia comes from two Ancient Greek words: ‘Eu’ means ‘Good’, and ‘thantos’ means ‘death’, so Euthanasia means good death.
    • Two types: Euthanasia can be also divided into two types according to means of death.
      • Active Euthanasia: It is also known as ‘Positive Euthanasia’ or ‘Aggressive Euthanasia’. It refers to causing intentional death of a human being by direct intervention. It is a direct action performed to end useless life and a meaningless existence.
        • For example, by giving lethal doses of a drug or by giving a lethal injection. Active euthanasia is usually a quicker means of causing death and all forms of active euthanasia are illegal.
      • Passive Euthanasia: It is also known as ‘Negative Euthanasia’ or ‘Non-Aggressive Euthanasia’. It is intentionally causing death by not providing essential, necessary and ordinary care or food and water.
        • It implies discontinuing, withdrawing or removing artificial life support systems.
        • Passive euthanasia is usually slower and more uncomfortable than active. Most forms of voluntary, passive and some instances of non-voluntary, passive euthanasia are legal.

    Rights, Cases & Legality in India

    • State of Maharashtra vs Maruti Shripati Dubal: Right to life includes right to die & Section 309 struck down. Upheld by SC in P. Rathinam vs Union of India case.
    • Gian Kaur vs the State of Punjab: Went against previous stands & no legal euthanasia. 
    • Section 306 of IPC: Acts of aiding & abetting suicide are punished.
    • Naresh Maratra Sakhee vs Union of India: Distinguished euthanasia from suicide.

    Global Status

    • England: Illegal & is punishable with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
    • Australia: Northern Territory, the first country to legalize in 1996. Crime in most states.
    • Albania: Legalised in 1999, based on consent of family members.
    • Belgium: Legalised in 2002.
    • Netherlands: First in the world to legalize both euthanasias & assisted suicide in 2002.
    • Canada: Only passive euthanasia allowed (Right to refuse life sustaining treatments).
    • US: Euthanasia is illegal everywhere & assisted suicide allowed in Oregon & California.

     

    Significance

    • End of Pain: Euthanasia provides a way to relieve the intolerably extreme pain and suffering of an individual. It relieves the terminally ill people from a lingering death.
    • Respecting Person’s Choice: The essence of human life is to live a dignified life and to force the person to live in an undignified way is against the person’s choice. Thus, it expresses the choice of a person which is a fundamental principle.
    • Treatment for others: In many developing and underdeveloped countries like India, there is a lack of funds. There is a shortage of hospital space. So, the energy of doctors and hospital beds can be used for those people whose life can be saved instead of continuing the life of those who want to die. 
    • Dignified Death: Article 21 of the Indian Constitution clearly provides for living with dignity. A person has a right to live a life with at least minimum dignity and if that standard is falling below that minimum level then a person should be given a right to end his life. 
    • Addressing Mental Agony: The motive behind this is to help rather than harm. It not only relieves the unbearable pain of a patient but also relieves the relatives of a patient from mental agony.

    Issues

    • Medical Ethics: Medical ethics call for nursing, caregiving and healing and not ending the life of the patient. In the present time, medical science is advancing at a great pace making even the most incurable diseases curable today. Thus, instead of encouraging a patient to end his life, the medical practitioners have to encourage the patients to lead their painful life with strength. 
    • Moral Wrong: Taking a life is morally and ethically wrong. The value of life can never be undermined.
    • Vulnerable will become more prone to it: Groups that represent disabled people are against the legalisation of euthanasia on the ground that such groups of vulnerable people would feel obliged to opt for euthanasia as they may see themselves as a burden to society.
    • Suicide v/s Euthanasia:  When suicide is not allowed then euthanasia should also not be allowed. A person commits suicide when he goes into a state of depression and has no hope from life. Similar is the situation when a person asks for euthanasia. But such a tendency can be lessened by proper care of such patients and showing hope in them. 
    • X-Factor: Miracles do happen in our society especially when it is a matter of life and death, there are examples of patients coming out of coma after years and we should not forget human life is all about hope.

    Way Forward

    • Such tendency should be lessened by proper care & instilling hope & positivity.
    • Sometimes reasonable to end patients’ suffering & relatives’ agony.
    • Active voluntary euthanasia can make murder easy so must be avoided.

    Source: IE