The process of euthanasia is divided into two different types, first is active euthanasia, meaning when a doctor gets involved through his act of killing or in the death of a person. When a doctor administers a lethal dose in the patient body for painless death of a person for merciful reason. And the second is passive euthanasia, where the death of a person is caused due to withholding of necessary treatment for the survival of the patient.
Life is important for every person and every person wants to live a happy life. But same time death is inevitable. When any person himself ends his/her life because of any reason we called it “Suicide”. When any person is killed by someone against his/her will we called it “Murder”. And when ends of the other person with his/her consent or on his request or because of his/her incurable condition, it is called “Euthanasia”. The common thinking of society, courts or all the people is that everyone wants to live, nobody wants to die. This is common thinking every member of society has. The problem arises when the question of How comes into the picture. How does that person want to live? In simple term wants to live with dignity, didn’t want to survive on medication, wants to live a good and healthy life. But everyone can’t deserve this also. Death is inevitable, everyone living, has to die sooner or later. The problem arises when a person is not in a condition to determine whether he/she will live a good life or not, and euthanasia comes into the picture. In simple terms, if I define euthanasia as a kind of request that a patient desire. A request that he/she (the patient) does not want to live and wants to die. Through the process of euthanasia, simple doctors at the request of the patient not killing the patient but they are not saving him also. Or in a much simpler way, withdrawal of life support at the request of the patient is termed as euthanasia. When a person is suffering from an incurable disease and doctors does not have answers whether the patient will enjoy his life again or not? then at the desire of the patient euthanasia can be granted. But the basic problem of the line is that does a person has the right to die? Whether a patient is in condition to make a decision? Is there no scope for the survival of patients in future? Is morally correct not to save someone? This type of question comes as an argument when we discussed euthanasia.
Euthanasia is one of the debatable topics on when the question of right to life and right to die come. The argument and ethical ambiguity are from several decades. Some countries already legalize euthanasia or in other term granted the right to die. The term euthanasia was derived from the Greek words “eu” and “Thanatos” which means “easy death” or “good death”. Euthanasia is also known as mercy killing. As per Black’s Law Dictionary of the 8th edition, euthanasia is a practise or act of bringing about the death of the person or killing who is suffering from an incurable disease, especially from painful incurable disease for the reason of mercy. In simple terms, if a person is suffering from a disease that has no medication to cure so to release the patient from the pain through the act of euthanasia
The process of euthanasia divided in two different types, first is Active euthanasia means when a doctor involves through his act in killing or death of a person. When a doctor administers a lethal dose in the patient body for painless death of a person or merciful reason. And the second is passive euthanasia death of the person is caused due to withholding of necessary treatment for the survival of the patient. In simple terms in the process, doctors are not doing anything to save the patient and not doing anything to cause the death, they are just simply withholding the necessary medication and let the patient die. In much simpler term’s doctors are not killing someone; they are simply not saving him. Not doing anything to save the patient.
Above mentioned ways can be executed under three different types:
First Voluntary euthanasia which means the practice or act of euthanasia is executed at the desire/will of the patient or with the consent of the patient. Second Involuntary euthanasia means ending the living person’s life through the way of euthanasia without the patient’s content. And third and most controversial Non-voluntary Euthanasia, in this person is not in a condition to give his consent. The patient may be unconscious or not competent enough the consent and without the consent, the act of euthanasia executed is known as non-voluntary euthanasia.
Right to life vs Right to Die
The debate of does the right to life include the right to die is common while discussing euthanasia. Because in euthanasia a patient is just demanding the right to die, he/she wants to die. The debate over this topic is ambiguous to answer until the judgment of the supreme court of India. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution includes the right to life and base life of the same article supporter of the right to die to claim that the right to die is included in the right to life i.e., under article 21. The supporter of euthanasia or mercy killing claims the same as the right to life include the right to die but it does not. In Gain Kaur vs State of Panjab, the supreme court of India in 1996, held that the right to life is a fundamental right under article 21 of the Indian constitution and it does not include the right to die. Or in another word, the right to life does not include the right to die as per article 21. The court also held that article 21 grants protection of life and personal liberty and no extension can be imagined with this article.
Euthanasia and Suicide
There is a prevailing misconception that euthanasia can be treated the same as suicide but they are not the same. Both euthanasia and suicide are two different terms. Suicide means the deliberate destruction of oneself. Suicide means killing yourself with your hand. The reason for suicide can be depression, failure, love, not getting a job, frustration or any social, economically or financial issue that affects a person mental health and the person opted for suicide. Whereases euthanasia is granted because the patient is suffering from an incurable disease there is already no chance to live a life, unlike suicide. Maruti Shripati Dubal Case, In this case High court of Bombay clearly distinguish between suicide and euthanasia. Suicide is an act of self-destruction without intervention from any human agency. Suicide is not at their own will by their own. Whereas euthanasia is a process that is executed to end life with human agency intervention. And in euthanasia person is suffering from an incurable disease.
Legal Situation of Euthanasia in India
In India, there is no law to govern euthanasia. But passive euthanasia was legalized in India by the supreme court in Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug vs Union of India. Indian constitution has been derived from different countries and some other countries have a law for euthanasia but till now India does not have any law. The Supreme court has framed guidelines for euthanasia and asked the govt to frame a law for the same.
Court also held that under Article 226 of the Indian constitution High Courts is entitled to issue a write and entitle to issue direction or order. As per the same article, when such application/request is filled High court constitute the bench of at least two judges to grant approval or not.
Some of the other countries legalized euthanasia and framed the acts for the execution of euthanasia. As Netherland is the first European country that legalized euthanasia. In 2002 Netherland passed a “Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act for legalization of euthanasia with medical board permission. Belgium: In 2002, as per the “Belgium Act on Euthanasia 2002”, euthanasia was legalized. In Canada, a person has a right to refuse medical treatment and life support but does not have the right to demand euthanasia. So, through the process of refusing treatment i.e., similar to passive euthanasia is allowed in Canada
Arguments in Favour of Euthanasia
The supporter for legalizing euthanasia argued that the life of a person is taken by his/her personal consent and we should respect the decision of the person who wants to end life. Society is in the interest of the individual and if an individual wants to die, we should let him die. The interests of individuals should prevail over the interest of society.
The person as person article 21 have the right to live with dignity and if a person feels that he/she lost the dignity and wants to die we should accept his/her decision. Further, if we grant euthanasia at the request of the patient it will save the money of the family members as they also know there is no chance of improvement.
Arguments Against Euthanasia
The arguments mostly come from a religious perspective, as they contend life is given by God and God only have the right to take it. Birth and Death is the decision of almighty God and we should not interfere in their decision. If we interfere, the life cycle will affect. All religious groups like Hindus, Muslims, Christian, strongly against the legalization of euthanasia.
Euthanasia can’t be granted only based on the consent of the patient. The family members, friends, close relative, partner plays a vital role in person’s life. So, granting euthanasia solely based on patient consent is not correct.
Passive euthanasia is legalized as per the order of a supreme court of India in 2017 in Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India but still, there is debate.
The supreme court of Indian in 2017 while delivering the judgement, asked the government to frame the law of euthanasia. But still, there is no law in India for the governance of euthanasia. A person who suffers from an incurable painful disease still can’t claim euthanasia under any act or law. The person has to go through the guideline of the supreme court of Indian framed in the 2017 case. India needs a proper law, passed by legislation to clear the ambiguity over the legalization of euthanasia.