“One should die proudly, when it’s no longer possible to live proudly.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
When life becomes so weighty, death is for a man a sought after refuge. The issue of Euthanasia is not a recent one, with its roots firmly placed in the evolution and growth of medicine since the beginning of history known to mankind. But yet no satisfactory resolution has been reached by any judiciary around the world. Before going into the analytical review of the arguments relating to euthanasia, we first need to know “What Euthanasia is?”
Derived from the Greek words, ‘Eu Thanatos’, the term literally stands for ‘good death’. Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending of life to reduce pain and suffering of a human being.
For the purpose of analysis, it’s necessary to further distinguish the term into- “Passive Euthanasia” and “Active Euthanasia”. Passive Euthanasia, also called as ‘Pulling the plug’ concerns with the intentional withholding of treatment, which in turn results in the death of the patient. In this, death is deemed to be a result of the patient’s medical condition. Passive euthanasia is considered as legal under certain circumstances in many countries.
Active Euthanasia, on the other hand, is a decidedly different thing. An act is considered to be ‘Active euthanasia’ when by such an act death is brought about. For instance- when a person is killed by an over dose of painkillers being given to him. Contrary to Passive euthanasia, Active euthanasia, is, however, legal or de- facto legal in only a few countries, viz. Belgium, Canada, and Switzerland and is restricted to specific circumstances and the approval of doctors. In countries such as, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, support for Active euthanasia is almost non- existent.
In present-day usage, “Euthanasia” is said to be painless inducement of a quick death. However, it’s argued that this approach fails to provide a transparent picture of euthanasia as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the ingredients of the definition, but would not be considered as ‘Euthanasia’, such as, accidental deaths that are quick and painless.
The concept of Euthanasia in the sense of easing the process of death goes back to the medical historian, Friedrich Heinrich Marx, who believed that, a doctor was vested with the moral duty to ease the pain of death through support and mitigation using medication.
Euthanasia in its modern sense has always been opposed in the Judeo- Christian tradition.
The rise of the Euthanasia Movement in the United States coincided with the Gilded Age- a time of social and technological change.
The first attempt to legalize euthanasia took place in the United States, when Henry Hunt introduced legislation in the General Assembly of Ohio in 1906.
POSITION OF EUTHANASIA IN INDIA:
In a historic judgment, India’s Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling allowing “Passive euthanasia”, declaring that individuals have the right to die with dignity under strict guidelines. In its decision, the country’s Highest Court permitted its citizens to draft a “living will” that specifies that life support not be given in the case of coma. Thus, since March 2018 passive euthanasia is legal in India.
There are still arguments revolving around the subject of Euthanasia. While some are in favour, others are against euthanasia.
As an end note, in my view, all countries must consider legalizing euthanasia as it shall save millions of patients from suffering instead of peaceful death.
This Article Is Authored By Arpita Deb, Student of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B), University Law College, Gauhati University