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Legalizing Euthanasia : Is India Ready For It?

03 Feb

I do believe in the sanctity of life; it’s a gift of God and we should live it, but how? With some self-respect and dignity or vegetate in a hospital ward with life support system and no contact with outside world !

Just consider this: Aruna Shanbhag has been in coma for 38 years. In 38 years, we have had more than a dozen Prime Ministers, half a dozen Presidents have come and gone, India has reached the moon, we have become the

 

back-office to the world, IT has boomed, we have gone past a billion mark in population etc; but she knows nothing of it. She lies unaware of her own condition, in a limbo. The sexual assault on her in 1973, in which she was strangulated with a dog chain and the oxygen supply to her brain was cut-off, has left her bedridden and bereft of any semblance of life. She is paralyzed, blind and in coma. Since then, she has merely been existing but not living. Is this the life that God had wished for her? No.

This is precisely the kind of case that sparks off a euthanasia debate. Doesn’t Aruna deserve to be laid to rest? For whom is she existing? What for and at what cost? Just so we can preserve a breathing organism in a bell jar and call it the “magic of life”. Isn’t that a mockery of a life that once lived and breathed.

Why just Aruna, in early 2000 K.Venkatesh had approached the court with a mercy-killing petition. He was suffering from muscular dystrophia and was turned into a crawling creature. It was a terminal illness with no cure and there were other complexities which compunded his pain and suffering. While the court rejected his plea, luckily for him God had accepted it. He passed away in 2004, his wretched life had come to an end and rid him of all the pain. While the constitution gives us ‘right to life’; does it not imply that there is a ‘right to death’ as well!

Having said that, I do not ask for legalizing euthanasia. A few reasons being that:

a. there are more chances of abuse, especially in a country like ours where people get away with murder, euthanasia could become another tool in the hands of devious minds

 

b. if someone has huge property and the relatives collude with lawyers and doctors to create a situation whereby they desensitize the victim and approach the court for granting euthanasia

c. it would be difficult to frame guidelines as we cannot enumerate all causes and clauses for granting euthanasia

d. from perspective of medical science, no medical advancement can happen if people start seeking euthanasia on grounds of a terminal disease and long term affliction

Coming back to the title of the post. India is not ready for legalization of euthanasia and I am not in favor of euthanasia or PAS [Physician Assissted Suicide] either. But I do think that in rarest of rare cases it should be granted. Just as we award capital punishment in rarest of rare cases, we should make that consideration for euthanasia as well. If someone has lived a life of self-respect, they deserve a dignified death too.

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

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Posted by on February 3, 2011 in general

 

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