Euthanasia : Right to die with dignity

Euthanasia : Right to die with dignity
Scene from movie Guzaarish based on Euthanasia.

Introduction :

Mercy killing, commonly known as euthanasia, is a practice of ending someone’s life, who is suffering from an incurable & very painful disease intentionally. The word ‘Euthanasia’ is a Greek word, which originated in the 17th century. It refers to ‘Easy Death’. Some of the countries have legalized euthanasia under strict guidelines within their territory whereas, In some of the countries, euthanasia is completely illegal. The process of euthanasia is generally performed by the physicians or doctors when the patient, who has incurable disease which is too painful, insists or requests them to let him/her die. Sometimes, the process of euthanasia is also conducted by the relatives of the patient. It’s a very compound process in which elements such as mental as well physical condition of the patient, Consent of the patient, local laws for euthanasia, etc. play very important role.

Relate with movie

This blog on Euthanasia or better say it Mercy Killing is inspired from 2010 Bollywood movie based on Euthanasia ‘Guzaarish’. After introducing , let me brief you about the summary of this movie.
Ethan Mascarenhas (Played by Hrithik Roshan) is a former magician who is suffering from quadriplegia, a paralysis caused by illness or injury that results in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso. He decides to file an appeal in court to end his life willingly. But the court rejected his plea stating this isn’t legal in our nation. But he ultimately founds his better half as Sofia D’Souza, his nurse (played by Aishwarya Rai).

Types of euthanasia :

Euthanasia has been classified into several types. These are :-

• Voluntary Euthanasia :

Voluntary euthanasia is that type of euthanasia where the process of euthanasia is performed with the consent of the patient. Here consent given by the patient must be full consent, i.e., it is the decision of the patient only to end his/her life and he/she is in the state to understand what is going to happen. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some of the countries.

• Involuntary Euthanasia :

Involuntary Euthanasia is that type of euthanasia, where the process of euthanasia is performed without asking the consent of the patient, i.e., without asking if the patient even wants to die or not. This process of euthanasia is performed against the will of the patient. Involuntary Euthanasia is not allowed in any of the countries. It is illegal in all of the countries & generally regarded as a type of murder.

• Non-voluntary Euthanasia :

Non-voluntary euthanasia is that type of euthanasia in which consent of the patient is unavailable. For e.g., Patient in coma, Child euthanasia, etc. Non-Voluntary Euthanasia is an illegal practice and it is considered as a criminal offence worldwide.

• Active Euthanasia :

Active euthanasia is that type of euthanasia in which the patient is killed because of an intentional & direct action by a doctor or any other person. Active euthanasia is quick & direct. It causes fast death of the patient. For e.g., The doctor injected something which caused the death of patient, The doctor gave overdose of a medicine to the patient which further caused the death of patient, etc. Active euthanasia can be further divided into two parts – Active voluntary euthanasia & Active Involuntary euthanasia. In Active voluntary euthanasia, the process of active euthanasia is performed with the full consent of the patient whereas In Active Involuntary euthanasia, the process of active euthanasia is performed without the consent of the patient.

• Passive Euthanasia :

Passive Euthanasia is that type of euthanasia in which the patient dies because of some indirect actions by a doctor in order to let the patient die. In passive euthanasia, the doctor stop doing those things that is keeping the patient alive or he don’t do anything necessary to keep the patient alive. Passive euthanasia takes time & it is indirect unlike Active euthanasia. Passive euthanasia can be further divided into two parts – Passive voluntary euthanasia & Passive Involuntary euthanasia. In passive voluntary euthanasia, the process of passive euthanasia is performed with the consent of the patient whereas In Passive Involuntary euthanasia, the process of passive euthanasia is performed without the consent of the patient.

Passive euthanasia is morally more acceptable than Active euthanasia as people generally think that it is fair enough to stop the treatment of those patients who are suffering from incurable disease & take some indirect actions in order to let that patient die faster but it is not fair to kill a person deliberately by any direct action.

Euthanasia in India :

Passive euthanasia is legal in India since 9 March 2018. Passive euthanasia refers to withdrawing of medical support to let the patient die faster. No any other types of euthanasia other than passive euthanasia has been legalized in India. Also, Passive euthanasia is legal under some strict guidelines.
On 9 March 2018, supreme court of India made a landmark judgement of legalizing passive euthanasia in the country saying that an individual has right to die with dignity under some strict guidelines. The judgement was given by a five judge bench of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. The bench also had Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhusan and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar. The process of passive euthanasia in India can be conducted only on that patient, who is either in vegetative state or suffering from any incurable disease. The patient must consent through a living will to let the process of passive euthanasia happen and he/she must be in a healthy state of mind while giving consent. In other words, Only passive voluntary euthanasia is legal in India. Passive Involuntary euthanasia is still illegal in the country.

Conclusion :

Article 21 of the Constitution of India talks about right to life. On 9 March 2018, Supreme court in a historical judgement declares right to die with dignity a fundamental right under article 21.
The main motive of performing euthanasia is to end a person’s life, who is suffering from an incurable & very painful disease and give him/her an easy death. But in my opinion, consent of the patient is the most important aspect in the conduction of the process of euthanasia. Euthanasia performed without the consent of the patient or against the will of the patient is no less than a criminal offence. If the euthanasia is performed with the consent of the patient, then I think it’s fair.
To conclude, there is no wrong in conducting euthanasia with the full consent of the patient. In my opinion, if not active euthanasia, at least passive voluntary euthanasia under strict guidelines should be made legal in all of the countries as it is morally correct.

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Amartya

My name is AMARTYA, and I am currently pursuing B.A.LL.B. from Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. As a law student, I am interested in public speaking & content writing.

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