“I think those who have a terminal illness and are in great pain should have the right to choose to end their own life, and those that help them should be free from prosecution.”
Euthanasia means the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of a patient, who is suffering from an incurable and painful disease, or he is in an irreversible coma. Euthanasia can also be called as mercy killing as you are killing someone out of mercy or assisted suicide, as someone is ending their life and you are trying to help them in that, so it is also called euthanasia. The word is derived from the Greek word euthanatos which means easy death.
Why someone demands of Euthanasia? The first reason can be that a person who is undergoing an incurable condition or he is suffering from hopeless pain Can demand euthanasia to free himself from pain. Another reason may be that he thinks that he has lived his life and wants to end it such a person demand euthanasia. But when there was a surveydone it came out that less than one third people request for euthanasia because of severe pain, most of them demand it because of quality of life they are living. Quality of life can be severely damaged by physical condition such as incontinence, nausea and vomiting, breathlessness, paralysis and difficulty in swallowing. And so many patients get depressed because of quality of life and they many a times feel burdensome on their sons and relatives, and so they want to end their life.
Euthanasia is carried out at the persons request and there are instances when the decision lies on the patient relatives or doctor as the condition of the patient is too ill and, in some cases, it lies on the court even.
Now, the moral dilemma here is who gave the right to human to end someone life, who can decide the amount of pain the person is going through or under how much suffering he is. So, the question on a bigger part is, is euthanasia justified, under what circumstances it must be justified? Let us consider anexample, a person is in coma there are very less chance of him to survive now the relative of the patient can make the decision to end the life of the patient but if they made the decision under personal interest then what. They killed the patient for his property then is this euthanasia justified as the patient was not in a condition to give the consent. And even the patient can survive but they killed him just for personal interest.
Another aspect is that who gave human the right to take away the life of someone, it is totally the decision of the God and nature, this aspect is seen by religious people, and they criticize euthanasia for this also. The practical issue is that if someone is euthanasia can even be forged, and this can be taken as cover for murder.
Euthanasia can be classified into 3 types, the first is voluntary one where it is done with patient consent, second is non voluntary euthanasia where the patient is unable to give consent, third is involuntary euthanasia here there is no question of consent, without your consent you are being killed looking at your condition this type of euthanasia is banned mostly. Another is physical assisted suicide in this the doctor makes the patient means available for suicide and let him kill himself. In this there is no legal liability on the doctor.
Is euthanasia legal in India? In India, euthanasia is a crime. Section 309 of IPC deals with the attempt to suicide and section 306 of IPC deals with abetment to suicide and both these actions are punishable
Now in 2005 a PIL was filed by common cause seeking robust system of certification for passive euthanasia and legal recognition for living will in India. After almost 13 years the decision came, and it was by the side of common cause.
Before this there was very famous case ArunaShanba Case, she was a nurse at KEM hospital and there she was raped by a worker in 1973. During that attack she was strangled with chain and due to which the deprivation of oxygen left her in vegetative state following the incident she was treated in KEM hospital and kept alive for 48 years with the help of feeding tube. During those years she was unable to move even, and the quality of life was worst, she died in 2015. In 2009 a journalist Pinki Virani came into contact with her and filed a petition in supreme court on behalf of her and she argued that continued existence of Aruna shanbaug is a violation of her right to dignity. And she deserves euthanasia. On 7thMarch 2011, the supreme court made its decision in which they issued a set of guidelines that legalized passive euthanasia in India. The court further said that the decision to take away life support should be made by parents, spouse, or other close relative and in absence of them by a friend. But here Pinki was not considered a close friend of Aruna rater the nurses treating her were considered her close friend and the nurses said that they don’t want to give passive euthanasia to her and so she was not given euthanasia. So, the Supreme Court said you can demand passive euthanasia by approaching the concerned high court.
This decision of the court classified the euthanasia, this classification was, if the patient is killed by taking actions on him like giving lethal injections and then killing him this can be called active euthanasia and another method can be not doing what is necessary like removing the ventilator support of a person this can be called as passive euthanasia.
But in 2014 a three-judge bench of supreme court of India termed the Judgement in the Aruna case to be inconsistent in itself and referred the issue of euthanasia to its five-judge constitution bench.
So, in the case of common cause vs union of India led by justice Deepak Mishra, upheld that the fundamental right to life and dignity includes right to refuse treatment and die with dignity. The fundamental right to a meaningful existence includes a person’s choice to die without suffering it held.
It also talked about living will In which the patient will decide to take off the life support after sometime and here the doctor and the relatives wont be liable. Living will, will be executed under certain condition.
But living will is not practical in India so, in case if there is no living will, and the patient is not in a condition to survive the doctor will have a meeting with the family members and also their family doctor, now the family member will give their decision in writing to the board member and their consent that they are ready to give euthanasia. The board member will give the information to the collector, and he on his level will make a board, then this board will approve about the life support to be removed or not and then the information will be given to JMFC, and he once again will verify the condition of patient and the medical report, and he will do necessary enquiry at his level. And after all this if he feels that it Is not done for personal interest then he will agree upon removing the life support and giving him euthanasia.
But if any one of the above don’t approve then the family can approach the high court and ask for euthanasia, high court will also have to make their own committee for the same. And whatever decision maybe it must be in the interest of patient, if condition is too much critical then he can he given euthanasia and if he has chances to survive then it may not be given.
In this judgement Justice Chandrachud observed that “Modern medical science should balance its quest to prolong life with need to provide patients quality of life. One is meaningless without the other.”
The current condition of euthanasia In India is very good, the process is long, but it is just to check weather it is done for personal interest or not and the goodwill of patient is also ensured. After seeing all the aspects of euthanasia and the current scenario in India there is no further need to legalize it, if a patient wants to give upon his life he is allowed to do so after a due process, but he is not allowed to give upon his life just because he is no more interested in living as this will affect the society. If complete euthanasia is legalized then it will be a problem for community at large as it can be used as a murder technique and it will also affect the society, the current situation in India is best and some hurdles are there, but they are for the benefit of the patient.