Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
Jean-Luc Godard, a French New Wave cinema hero, died by assisted suicide recently at the age of 91.
What exactly is assisted suicide?
- Assisted suicide and euthanasia are both techniques in which a person ends their life with the active aid of others.
- Many European countries, as well as several jurisdictions in Australia and Colombia in South America, permit assisted suicide and euthanasia under specific conditions.
Active: Active euthanasia, which is only authorized in a few countries, involves using chemicals to end the patient's life.
Passive: It simply means discontinuing life-saving therapy or medical intervention with the patient's, a family member's, or a close friend's approval.
What Are the Arguments for and Against Assisted Suicide?
Arguments in favor of -
Freedom of Choice: Advocates say that the individual should be entitled to make their own decision.
Life Quality: Only the person truly understands how they feel, as well as how the physical and mental suffering of disease and extended dying affects their quality of life.
Dignity: Every person should be able to die in dignity.
Resources: It is more beneficial to direct resources such as highly qualified personnel, equipment, hospital beds, and pharmaceuticals toward lifesaving therapies for individuals who want to survive rather than those who don't.
Humane: Allowing a person with persistent suffering to choose to terminate their misery is more humanitarian.
Loved ones: It can assist in alleviating loved ones' sadness and suffering.
Arguments in against of -
Moral and religious justifications: Many religions consider euthanasia to be a kind of murder and hence morally reprehensible. Suicide is also frowned upon in several faiths. There is a moral argument that euthanasia will erode society's regard for the sanctity of life.
Competence of the Patient: Only if the patient is mentally competent, with a clear awareness of available alternatives and consequences, and the ability to articulate that understanding and their desire to end their own life, is euthanasia voluntary. It is difficult to determine or define competence.
Guilt: Patients may believe they are a drain on resources and are under psychological duress to consent. They may believe that the financial, emotional, and mental strain on their family is too much for them.
A slick slope: There is a possibility that physician-assisted suicide will begin with those who are terminally ill and want to die because of unbearable pain, but will subsequently spread to include others.
Regulatory oversight: Euthanasia cannot be effectively regulated.
Is Assisted Suicide or Euthanasia legal in India?
- In 2018, the Supreme Court of India legalized passive euthanasia in a landmark decision, ruling that it was a question of 'living will.'
- Under some situations, an adult may refuse medical care or freely opt not to receive medical treatment in order to embrace death in a natural way, according to the decision.
- The court established a set of criteria for a "living will," as well as defined passive euthanasia and euthanasia.
- It also established criteria for 'living wills' prepared by terminally ill individuals who are aware of their possibilities of entering a permanent vegetative state.
- The court clearly clarified that in such instances, a patient's rights would not be excluded from the scope of Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Indian Constitution.
- The Supreme Court's decision was consistent with its March 2011 decision on a related plea.
- The court permitted passive euthanasia for Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who had been in a vegetative condition for decades when ruling on a petition on her behalf. Shanbaug had been a focal point in India's disputes about the legality of the right to die and euthanasia.
- A vegetative state occurs when a person is awake but shows no evidence of consciousness.
- In 2014, meanwhile, another Supreme Court bench identified anomalies in previous decisions on passive euthanasia, including the one in the Shanbaug case, and sent the question to a constitutional court.