Euthanasia – Is  this life worth living?


This article was written by  Shruti Satdeve a student of  Symbiosis Law School, Pune

Imagine what will happen if I will put you in a small box where you can hardly  move your limbs, where you can’t even stretch your hand if you are thirsty or probably feed yourself if you are hungry, where there are no words to speak but only ears to hear, where you won’t be going out for a walk  in the evening or maybe not even to the nearest ice-cream parlour to taste your favourite ice-cream. Unless and until I provide you with my help, you cannot even comb your hair. Now that you’ve imagined such a miserable life for just one day, I welcome you to the world of people who live this sort of  life every day. They’re always dependent on someone or the other to do all these basic regular things for them. Euthanasia is a practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy. The definition given by Merriam Webster, itself says ” permitting the death of hopelessly sick”. Euthanasia is for a good cause, don’t believe me? Well, everyone has seen euthanasia from only one side. So, let’s confront this aspect too.

When you are injured, you feel pain, misery and deeply shaken. What do you do about it? A majority of people would probably take pain killers but, what if the pain still doesn’t go? You take another one, right? But, think of those poor fellows who cannot even speak their heart out. You feel pain, you tell it to your family or loved ones. But, what if even that freedom is taken away from you?

Article 19-20 of our Indian Constitution talks about “Right to Freedom” which is a Fundamental right. Article 19 guarantees six freedoms namely freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly without arms, freedom of association, freedom of movement throughout the territory of India, freedom to reside and settle in any part of the country of India and the freedom to practise any profession. If we critically analyze, Right to Freedom doesn’t actually applies to people who are disabled or who are hopelessly sick. They cannot talk because of their medical condition, few people are even paralyzed so freedom of speech and expression doesn’t really applies to them. Forget about assembling they can barely move their limbs and talking about arms, they cannot even lift their own cup of tea so again freedom of assembly without arms, freedom of movement and the freedom to practise any profession doesn’t apply nor is of any use to them anywhere in their life. And talking about freedom of association, what association do you think they’d probably be forming? A “release me from this pain” association or “kindly cure me if you have any cure” association?

Coming to the most important part of our constitution, Art. 21; which provides each and every individual with Right to Life. In a landmark case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India the supreme court ruled that “life” under Article 21 meant more than a mere “animal existence”; it would include the right to live with human dignity, good health, clean environment, water, speedy trial and humanitarian treatment while imprisoned. The supreme court itself said that “Right to life” includes good health and right to live with human dignity, but what is dignity if everyone around you feels pity for you and what good life are we talking about if the person is on his death bed? This judgement contradicts the whole debate Government has ever had on euthanasia; moreover, the Government is itself confused on euthanasia. For example, in M.S Dubal vs. State of Maharastra, the Bombay High Court held that Right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution includes ‘Right to Die’. On the other hand, in Chenna Jagadeeswar vs. State of AP, the AP High Court said that ‘Right to Die’ is not a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. However, in P. Rathinam’s case, Supreme Court of India observed that the ‘Right to Live’ includes ‘Right not to Live’ which is Right to Die or to terminate one’s life. But again, in Gain Kaur vs State of Punjab, a five member bench overruled the P.Rathainam’s case and held that Right to Life under Article 21 does not include Right to die or right to be killed.

Even if we consider that a person should not be killed because we believe that in this world a miracle can take place at any moment in a person’s life; no one literally think about the financial burden a family member has to bear because of the medication. Not to be rude but the person occupies a bed in the hospital and in this universe full of ailment some or the other human requires immediate medical attention but if a bed is already taken, there is a possibility that the concerned person may even die. If Government is so touched by this topic of euthanasia then they should provide the patient with the financial aid. They should bear all the expenses and also if possible they should provide with a separate hospital specially for people like these who have no scope of a better and healthy life any further in the near future. If nothing then all the conspiracies which are plotted just to get relieved from the financial burden would possibly come to an end, also since we have a living will, I consider it to be very useful as at least the person himself is able to take decision on his own unlike those who still struggle between their life and death.

This whole debate will go on forever and ever but still no one can knows what is going inside that body which is nearly dead, which is on a life support system. If not legalized, it is no less than a physical and mental torture. So tell me is this life worth living?

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