The Aruna Shanbaug case, in which Aruna moved the court to allow her to end her prolonged suffering, brought euthanasia or mercy death to limelight once again. While it might be a mercy for patients with terminal illnesses and never-ending pain, legalising euthanasia in India also carries the risks of giving another way to people to disguise unlawful motivated murders as ‘mercy killings’. Also Read - Inspiring! Meerut Woman Who Left Home To Avoid Forced Marriage Returns As PCS Officer 7 Years Later
Mahesh Bhatt, the famous filmmaker, is all for one’s sovereign right over one’s body and consciousness and the inevitable right of one to choose the exit from life whenever one likes. On the other hand, Dr Roop Gursahant who was a panelist doctor in the Aruna Shanbaug case warns that ‘Euthanasia’ can only work in a society which does not suffer from corruption and where every citizen is ethically and morally responsible. Also Read - Before Reporting For Duty, This Bengaluru Cop Teaches Children of Migrant Workers Everyday For An Hour
Here are some other arguments you might use: Also Read - Ready to Send Children Back to School? 78% Parents Say No, Willing to Let Kids Repeat An Academic Year
- Relief for patients and family members: Mercy killing can be an ideal solution for patients with terminal illnesses who cannot be cured and whose family can’t afford the cost of their prolonged treatment. Many-a-times, we forget the rights of family members of the patients who are reduced to poverty trying to keep their near and dear ones alive, even when they are sure to die after some time. Euthanasia can bring relief to such patients and their family members too.
- Implementing laws is a separate issue: Misuse of laws should not deter us from making new laws. There can always be checks and balances to make sure that such decisions are made only after much deliberation.
- Unnecessary strain on precious medical resources: Artificially keeping a person alive, using latest medical technology, does not in any way benefit the person, his family members or the society at large. Long term palliative care for terminally ill patients is a wasteful drain on precious medical resources of our country. We shouldn’t waste them on patients who cannot be cured and do not even want to live. These medical resources should instead be directed to people who do want to live and who can benefit from such treatments.
- Can be misused to disguise murders: Euthanasia can be passive or active. Passive Euthanasia is one when the life support system of terminally ill patients is withdrawn. In Active Euthanasia, patients are given large dose of lethal chemicals to hasten their death. Both the forms can be misused to kill innocent victims in the name of ‘mercy’.
- Lack of education and awareness of rights can make it more lethal: India is a large country and a large percentage of its population is uneducated. Many people are not aware about their rights, laws, rules or regulations. Corruption, power plays and favours are not unknown in Indian society. In such a scenario, legalizing euthanasia may only mean that innocent victims are subjected to ‘mercy killing’ unlawfully to settle property disputes, political murders and cases of revenge.
- Corrupt systems further increase the risk: When our police department, medical department and legal system are still not free of corruption, it will be a grave risk to make euthanasia legal.
Euthanasia might be allowed in cases where suffering of a patient moves beyond tolerance but in such cases, consent of a panel of authorized doctors should be made compulsory.
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons