“At the time of euthanasia, Ventilator was stopped. But her soul cried, “Let me breathe””
- Dhara Chavda
Have you ever felt the pain of knowing you are near to the end stage of your life? What if someone kills you before your natural death and that isn’t recognized as a murder. It is what we call euthanasia.
Euthanasia is derived from the Greek words ‘eu’ and ‘Thanatos’ meaning good death. The basic idea behind the good death is that instead of condemning someone to slow painful and undignified death, it is good euthanasia is allowed to a person so that they can experience relatively a ‘good and dignified’ death.
Euthanasia is the practice of ending one’s life to limit the suffering of pain. The patient who is in no condition to a return to a normal good and healthy life would typically be experiencing great pain and suffering. So it is better to provide him the ultimate peace by taking his life before his natural death.
Generally around the globe, two types of euthanasia are mainly talked about. These are:
· Passive Euthanasia
· Active Euthanasia
Let us know more about the two.
Passive euthanasia is the act of taking out the life support such as ventilator to terminate the illness of a person. It can also involve turning respirators off, halting medicines, discontinuing food and medicines so that the person may die from dehydration.
The Honorable Supreme Court of India used the term ‘passive euthanasia’ in Aruna Shaunbag’s case in which it defined it as the withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention to hasten a terminally-ill patient’s health.
In 2018, the Honorable Supreme Court of India made passive euthanasia permissible with issuing certain guidelines. According to them, "Human beings have the right to die with dignity," said the apex court after allowing passive euthanasia.
They said that it will be only allowed when the family members of the patient who sought passive euthanasia are willing and the team of expert doctors suggests that the person’s revival is critically impossible. In such case, the passive euthanasia is permissible.
The judgment was given by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. The judgment came after a long years of debate whether it moral to let a person die when he has reached at the point of no return.
The petition was filed by the NGO ‘Common Cause’ which asked the directions for recognition of ‘living will’. NGO said that when the medical expert has made it clear that the person is at no point of return, and then he should be given the right to refuse being put on the life support.
Active euthanasia is the act of injecting lethal substances into patients in vegetative state. It is an intentional act of causing death in patients and has raised moral questions and debates in world. The main difference between active and passive euthanasia is that while the former one is ‘killing’ the latter one is ‘letting die’.
Sometimes these both types of euthanasia are confused with assisted suicide and assisted dying. But there is a difference. Assisted suicide is helping someone voluntary to commit suicide; assisted dying means helping a terminally ill patient themselves commit suicide.
LEGALITY OF EUTHANASIA
While passive euthanasia has been made legal in India with certain guidelines, active euthanasia is still not allowed in India. Along with India, the countries like Germany, Canada and South Africa have also legalized only passive euthanasia. Active Euthanasia is allowed in Luxemburg, Netherlands and Belgium as well as US states of Washington and Oregon. While some countries have made both types of euthanasia legal. These countries include The Netherlands, Colombia and Japan.
CONCLUSIONThe question whether permitting any kind of euthanasia is moral or not still remains debatable. It is observed that the doctors while starting their journey, takes the oath – “I will give no deadly medicine to any if asked, nor suggest any such counsel,” but like abortion, doctors can now ethically perform euthanasia under certain circumstances. It seems somewhat hypocritical situation.
In the words of Stephen Hawking-
“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 persecution”.
1. ZEENEWS, https://zeenews.india.com/india/active-euthanasia-vs-passive-euthanasia-whats-the-difference-and-which-country-allows-what-2088000.html, (last visited on Jan 22, 2021)
2. THE ASIAN AGE, https://www.asianage.com/amp/india/all-india/090318/passive-euthanasia-permissible-with-guidelines-says-sc.html, (last visited on Jan 22, 2021)
3. THE ASIAN AGE, https://www.asianage.com/life/health/090318/here-are-10-facts-about-euthanasia-you-probably-did-not-know.html, (last visited on Jan 22, 2021)