With the recent Supreme Court directive to consider the plea to end a life of a woman who is, in medical terms, “brain dead” since 1973 (here’s the news item), the discussions around euthanasia or mercy killing are gaining fresh ground.
Barring three states in the US (Oregon, Washington, Montana), the Netherlands, Belgium, Albania and Luxembourg, euthanasia (active, passive, and assisted) is a criminal offence by law.
Morally speaking, killing or murder in any form – homicide or suicide – is “wrong” – unless it was the last resort in an attempt at self preservation. That is my view. Hypothetically speaking, I would kill someone or myself if my or my loved ones’ existence or personal security was at grave risk.
Taking another point of view, thankfully the law does not recognize the caveat I give to qualify the definition of wrong (whatever be the motive you will be tried in a court); else based on our individual moral convictions we all would be firing (quite literally) each other and human civilization would move back to the Old Stone Age.
And that is what I understand to be the major deterrent in the legalization of euthanasia.
When one reads of terminally ill patients living a vegetative life (as in the news item quoted above) or of patients suffering from incurable painful diseases who would rather donate their organs and choose the option of leaving behind the throbbing of the life support systems (read about it here) – one wonders shouldn't they have the right to decide their fate – shouldn't they have the option to quit?
But then, who decides quits?
What if the patient is not in a state to take the decision – does the physician take a call? Do the family members decide? Would you take such a call for a loved one or would you hold onto the last breath waiting for a miracle that just might happen?
These issues, in a sense, are much larger than the obvious issue of the high probability of misuse of the right to mercy killing by criminals and others for selfish motives.
So, who should have the right to die?
I feel physician assisted euthanasia at the behest of the suffering patient when he/she is in a sound state of mind, and all medical hope is exhausted, should be legalized.
A voice in my head warns that with this each person gets the power to play God.
Is that right? I don’t know.
What are your views on this?