We live in a society which is grappling with questions every now and then. And of all those social issues, one of the most concerning is that of Euthanasia. The word ‘Euthanasia’ is described in Wikipedia as “an act of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering.” Euthanasia is often mistaken or associated with for assisted suicide, a distant cousin of euthanasia, in which a person wishes to commit suicide but feels unable to perform the act alone because of a physical disability or lack of knowledge. Euthanasia can either be active or passive. In case of the former, death is brought about by an act, that is, by giving an overdose of medicines. While passive euthanasia is brought about by an act of omission.
“My aim in helping the patient was not to cause death. My aim was to end suffering. Its got to be decriminalized.”
– Jack Kevorkian
There are different Euthanasia laws in different countries.
As of June 2016, Human Euthanasia is described to be legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, and Luxembourg. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia. South Korea is also set to join the league of euthanasia-legal countries starting from February 2018, with the option of both active and passive euthanasia available to the people. In France Euthanasia is considered to be against the law. The British House of Lords Select Committee defines Euthanasia as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the intention of ending a life, to release intractable suffering”.
In India, passive euthanasia is considered to be legal. On 7 March 2011, the Supreme Court of India legalized passive euthanasia by the means of the withdrawal of life support to the patient in a permanent vegetative state. However, forms of active euthanasia are considered to be illegal in India.
It is true that issue of Euthanasia is a prime invention available to people, and its popularity doesn’t seem to be decreasing. Supporters of euthanasia believe that allowing people to die with a certain level of dignity is kinder than leaving them to suffer. It is often quoted that “it’s better to die once and for all rather than dying daily on the deathbed.” Prolonged illness not only affects a person’s physique but also causes retardation in their mental growth. Therefore, certain incurable diseases can make survival possible only with the help of a ventilator. In such situations, it’s better to free the person of their pain.
On the other hand, people who oppose it regard it as ‘murder’. They believe that life is a gift from God and everyone has the right to live. God made us and He knows what we need on earth. If Christ endured immense suffering then the same is expected of us humans. For in Christianity, it is believed that humans are called to be an imitation of Christ. God is the supreme author, alone has the right to create and destroy life. No human has the right to take others life, no matter how one justifies it.
This debate brings out several questions that are worth giving a thought. Which groups of people should be provided with these rights? Do the handicapped or mentally ill deserve it?
Another grappling question is about the teenagers, who comprise to be the leading age group of suicide, also have the right to die? The answers rest in our hand. It should a fundamental ability to be able to decide upon these debates. The second chamber of the Dutch Parliament developed and approved the following substantive and procedural guidelines for Dutch Physicians to consider when administering euthanasia:
Euthanasia must be voluntary, patients request must be considered.
The patient must have full information about his/her medical conditions.
There must be no reasonable alternatives for relieving the patients suffering that is acceptable to the patient.
Euthanasia must be performed only by a physician.
The physician must consult with the second physician whose judgment must be independent.
The physician must take due care in reviewing and verifying the patient’s condition as well as while performing euthanasia.
The relatives must be informed unless the patient does not wish this. There should be written a record of the case.
All in all, the issue of Euthanasia is a very difficult and private choice. It should, therefore, remain a choice. A choice that should not be opposed by extremist forces, neither should it be legally forced. There are still heavy discussions revolving around the topic of Euthanasia. Both pro and anti-Euthanasia have strong. New Zealand and the Netherlands are a perfect example of these discussions