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Let 'Em Die



Wikipedia: Euthanasia (from the Greek εὐθανασία meaning “good death”: , eu (well or good) + θάνατος, thanatos (death)) refers to the practice of ending a life in a manner which relieves pain and suffering. According to the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, the precise definition of euthanasia is “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering.”


I didn’t know the existence of this word till a couple of years back. The first time I came across word was on the front page on the newspaper. It was some legal case whose details I do not recall. But the word stuck and since then I have been hearing about it with an alarming frequency. At the end of last year Sanjay Leela Bhansali addressed this issue in his film Guzaarish and now the SC judgment in the Aruna Shanbaug case does the same thing. Despite the SC judgment allowing passive euthanasia, the debate remains wide open. FYI euthanasia can be classified into the two categories apart from being classified as voluntary, involuntary or non-voluntary.

Passive euthanasia entails the withholding of common treatments, such as antibiotics, necessary for the continuance of life.
Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces to kill and is the most controversial means.

If you are a normal person, then the very concept of taking a life, even your own, will horrify you. But for me it’s really a question of taking rules out of the equation and looking at the humanitarian aspect of it. Consider this case of Ms. Shanbaug. A nurse by profession, she was sexually assaulted in 1973 and has been in a vegetative state since then. Her condition is such that even the law has no clear definition of it. She is neither in a coma nor has full awareness. She can move her eyelids but not see, not recognize, not understand anything or anyone. And 37 long years she has been forced to “live” like this. All so that various groups who have no idea of her suffering can debate on the morality of taking a life and use the law as an excuse. Ridiculous! What even worse is that they call themselves humanitarian groups, people who are defending human rights. Preposterous!

I do not say that there aren’t legal and ethical issues involved in allowing a life to be ended; especially when the patient concerned doesn’t have the mental capacity to make that decision. I can understand the Supreme Court’s concern that allowing the petition by Mrs. Pinki Virani on behalf of Ms. Shanbaug could encourage other people to do so and not always with the right intention. But this is a clear cut case. The Court rejected the petition on the basis that Mrs. Virani had not taken care of the patient at any point of time, so she had no right to appeal for her death. Apparently the Court believes that you become the property of the people who take care of you. What a message to send out!

The question is not about this case. There is a much larger issue involved here. Why is that we do not have the right to end our lives when we choose to? We aren’t given a choice while being born, at least we should have the right to die when we want to. Who gives the constitution, or a bunch of judges who crammed law books to decide that we have to live or die? All this crap about life being beautiful, being a gift etc. is really just that, CRAP! It’s a biological process. Period. If someone decides for whatever reason that he doesn’t want to live, it’s his choice. Whether things will change for the better is not something we can predict, so why force someone to live under a false hope?


I also know that a lot of people think that people who want to or attempt or successfully complete suicide are quitters. There is so much social stigma associated with it, it’s un-fricking-believable. Last time I checked, the constitution gave me the right to choose how I lived. How hypocritical of it for the same constitution to deny me right to end my life. And it’s none of anyone’s business to judge me or order me. Life is over-rated at times and people die every day because of their choices in some way or the other. Why is it so hard for people to get that?

Anyways, back to topic. I think that if we have even an ounce of humanity in us, we should allow people who are suffering incessantly with no hope for recovery, or people whose lives have just become meaningless both physically and mentally to end their lives. Even if we do not have that ounce of humanity, it is no business of ours to interfere in someone else’s life choices. When we find cure for such diseases or conditions, that time you can remove it as a basis for euthanasia. Till then, we need to allow euthanasia. Our fear of death as a society is no reason for someone to continue to suffer for it.

 

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