Saturday, January 29, 2011

The right to die…

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?


  1. it's hard to say. even the patients in sound state don't have the right to kill oneself. If no options to go then who has the power?

    I personally think it shouldn't be legalized, considering power could be abused. However, the system should have provisions for appeal. A special tribunal of relevant representatives may attend the case and make collective decision.


  2. Its stupid, to not legalise it. If you've the heart and soul to legally give death punishment for an individual who committed some shitty crime, You shouldn't have any problems with legally terminating someone's life, if its required.

    About the feeling of being God, The physician, at most times, Is the God. If he doesn't administer Adrenaline, In case of a Cardiac arrest; You do not really have another option. Thats the medical bubble.

    Who decides the thing is what's tricky.. A judge is inappropriate, so is a physician. And family and friends are definitely out of question.

  3. It is a very controversial issue.. On one hand it is correct to implement mercy killing in cases where the patient undergoes huge suffering and only death can alleviate their pain..On the other hand it is a painful issue for the relatives of the dying.. So God alone knows what's right and what's wrong..

  4. If the patient is in a position to decide- let him choose.

    Fix a set of common situations for which this plea can be filed and considered.

    Law can always have some pre-requites.. to check on proper and correct implementation of this law.

    My only concern.. the string of fake documents and corrupt ways that will crop up to find a loop hole with the law.

  5. Thank you all for sharing your views on this very sensitive issue. Each of your points are valid.
    A special tribunal to take care case-by-case seems a good idea but the tricky part of who decides remains...a qualified physician panel under strict vigilance could be our bet...hope the legal experts of the world are able to find a solution to this complicated yet very valid issue.

  6. Its hard to say whether this should be legalized or not.But,in my opinion this should be left on the sufferer and to some extent his family.
    There are times when the pain and sufferings crosses the limit and its the time to let go. How would one justify the number of deaths illegally?

  7. This is a tough one. If it is legalized, there is always a fat chance that people will misuse it.
    But there are so many suffering patients who don't have even the slightest of chances of surviving, and for such people it will definitely be a boon than to live in pain for years knowing there is no cure for their illness.

    So yes, to decide on something as sensitive as this is definitely very hard.

  8. @Aastha and Sukanya: How does one justify death itself - is a complicated question - sometimes I feel if we don;t have the power to give life why take it away - but that is an idealistic notion - like you guys mentioned practically speaking what about the suffering of so many...

  9. A hard one to decide.
    There is a school of thought which says that such laws (even POTA etc.) can be misused for personal or political vengence. That is a wrong stance.
    Which law that does exist cannot be misused? We see in our daily ife that even a over speeding traffic law being misused.
    We see in some cases innocent people are being charged with petty domestic cases to criminal cases. So do we have to call off all these laws then?

    The argument for not implementing such laws should be based on the negatives, in my opinion.


  10. Second you on that one completely!


I appreciate you taking out the time to share your valuable opinions! They mean a lot!


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