EUTHANASIA IN INDIA – 1 (BRIEF INTRODUCTION)

The Constitution of India guarantees people (both citizens and otherwise) Fundamental Rights. These rights are enforceable in the Supreme Court (under Article 32) and High Court (under Article 226). They protect the rights and freedom of the people against the encroaching power delegated by the state. These rights are regarded as Fundamental because they are significant for the individual to attain his full intellectual, moral and spiritual status. 

Article 21 of the Constitution is a Fundamental Right. It states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law”. This Fundamental Right confers an obligation on the state to ensure good quality of life, livelihood, liberty, and dignified life to the people, both citizens and otherwise. 

The right to life is a basic Human Right. Indian Judiciary has interpreted it in numerous cases. Several new rights under this right are the right to live with human dignity, right to livelihood, right to shelter, right to privacy, right to food, right to education, right to get pollution free air and water, and some other rights which are quite essential to improve the condition of the life of the people.

The question that arises here is whether Right to Life also included Right to Die. 

Death can be defined as the termination of life. Death can be categorized basically into two kinds – (i) natural and (ii) unnatural death.

Every person desires to live his life to the full extent, and for a long time. But there are certain situations in where the same person wants to end his life. The ending of the life of a person by himself may arise out of two ways; either suicide or euthanasia. While the former is entirely illegal in India, the latter is a debatable topic.

Meaning of Euthanasia: The term Euthanasia is derived from two Greek words, eu (good) and thantos (death). It is the act of seeking to provide a good death for a person who otherwise might face a much more unpleasant death. 

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, euthanasia means the act or practice of killing or bringing about the death of a person who suffers from an incurable disease or condition, esp. a painful one, for reasons of mercy. Encyclopedia of ‘Crime and Justice’, explains euthanasia as an act of death that will provide relief from a distressing or intolerable condition of living. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, Euthanasia means the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy. Euthanasia is also termed as ‘dayamaran’. Some people as the great saints or heroic persons embrace ‘echchamaran’ or wilful death when they feel that they have achieved the purpose of their lives. 

In simple words, euthanasia is the practice of mercifully ending a person’s life to release the person from an incurable disease, intolerable suffering, misery, and pain of life. It is also known as Mercy Killing.

Difference between Suicide and Euthanasia: Suicide is an intentional killing of oneself. Euthanasia is an action of some other person to bring to an end the life of a third person. Here, a third person is either actively or passively involved. He aids or abets the killing of another person. Assisted suicide is an act that intentionally helps another to commit suicide, for instance, by providing him with the means to do so. When it is a doctor who helps a patient to kill himself (by providing a prescription for lethal medication) it is physician-assisted suicide. Here, the patient is in complete control of the process that leads to death because it is the person who performs the act of suicide. The other person helps (for example, providing the means for acting). On the other hand, euthanasia may be active when a doctor gives a lethal injection to a patient, or passive when a doctor removes the life support system of the patient.

Types of Euthanasia: 

1. Based on Method – 

Active Euthanasia – here, the death of the victim is caused when the medical professionals, or any other person, deliberately do some act. For example, injecting a dose of a lethal drug or overdosing the victim with some drug, which would otherwise not result in death, if not for the overdose, thus resulting in the death of the person.

Passive Euthanasia – here, the death of the victim is caused when the treatment necessary for sustaining his life is either held off or is not provided. In this case, either the medical professionals don’t do anything necessary to keep the patient alive, or they stop giving the treatment which is required to keep him alive. For instance, switching off the life support system, disconnecting the feeding tube, not carrying out life-extending operations, and other similar acts.

2. Based on Will – 

Voluntary Euthanasia – In the case of voluntary euthanasia, the expressed consent and desire of the patient are present. It is primarily concerned with the patient’s choice of who is suffering from the incurable disease who decides to end his life.

Non – Voluntary Euthanasia – Non-voluntary euthanasia occurs when a person’s life is ended, who is mentally incompetent to make any such decisions of his life or a request to die; such as a patient suffering from comatose. In such cases, the patient does not leave any living will, or give any advance directives, mainly because he either might not have had the opportunity, or he might not have anticipated any such accident or eventuality. In cases of non-voluntary euthanasia, it is often the family members, who make the decision.

Involuntary Euthanasia – When the patient is killed without an express wish to this effect, it is a form of involuntary euthanasia. It refers to cases wherein a competent patient’s life is brought to an end against the wishes of that patient who oppose euthanasia, and would amount to murder.

3. Based on Administration – 

Self-Administered Euthanasia – When the patient administers the means of death themselves. For example, patients taking a deadly drug themselves.

Other Administered Euthanasia – When a person other than the patient administers the means of death. For example doctor or some other giving the patient a lethal injection.

Assisted suicide – When the patient administers the means of death themselves but with the assistance of some other. For example, patients administering a lethal injection themselves with the help of a physician.

4. There are various ways for euthanasia:

Lethal injection – Injection of a lethal dose of a drug, such as a known poison, KCl, etc

Asphyxiation – The most popular gas used is Carbon monoxide (CO). Nerve gases like sarin & tabun etc. are also added in small amounts to fully ensure death.

 One of the methods is also Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s death machine (mercitron, thanatron). He is also known as Dr. Death. It’s a unique method in which a person can end his life himself. With the use of this machine, a person can end his life himself painlessly at the time chosen by the patient.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at adv.aishwaryasandeep@gmail.com

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

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