This article talks about how human beings are involved in the cycle of survival, even when they do not want to continue their life with the pain. Existence as a Human being in this world is the most precious and Special gift one can ever receive. Even though, there may be circumstances where people don’t want to engage due to some illness that has been through a vegetative state. Euthanasia is primarily associated with those who are constantly ill for a long period of time and in a dormant state. These people seek for Euthanasia to avoid returning to their usual suffering life where they wait for their natural death. It is the State’s responsibility to engage into such situations and dig out some solutions to it. In this Article, we are going to engage into the meaning of Euthanasia, its types and how it is being influenced in the country like India. We are going to analyse the cases through which the Passive Euthanasia has been legalised in the state.
The Medical Science and Technology has reached to a significant position in the State practicing those changes that is the need of the hour for the human living and social values. It is a very basic principle that Human life is the most precious gift and who wants to give it back from its existence. It is surely those exceptional circumstances that makes human feel about taking his life to an end. It is an abnormal phenomenon where a human wants to end his/her life due to any circumstances, they don’t have any desires in life, and they don’t aim anything but towards end. It is a situation where human beings ask for their desired right to Die.
The Constitution of India provides certain rights relating to Citizen of India enshrined in Part-III of the Constitution itself as a Fundamental Right under Article 21. The Articles Associated have been interpreted and occurred as a matter of debates, many a times where it is partly noted that as the Right to life with human dignity, Right to Privacy, Right to Education are Fundamental Rights covered under the bare text, it also includes Right to Die as a part of Fundamental Rights. Right to life concerns essential Right to live as a component to a human being in such a way where that human being has the right not to be killed by any other. Right to Die can be achieved through committing suicide and Euthanasia, both being two different things.
Euthanasia is primarily associated with those who are constantly ill for a long period of time and in a dormant state. These people seek for Euthanasia to avoid returning to their usual suffering life where they wait for their natural death. It has become a much significant debatable topic in all over the world. The States of Netherlands and England has allowed the practice of Euthanasia which has led across the world if they should follow such practice or not. The Supreme Court of India decided a case on this topic and allowed Passive Euthanasia in India. It was mentioned in the case of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India. Euthanasia is conferred as the termination of patient’s life that is vegetative and incurable and in order to relieve them of their hasty sufferings.
Euthanasia AND IT’S KINDS
Euthanasia is derived from “eu” meaning good and “thanatos” meaning death, both being Greek work. It means “Good Death” altogether. It is a process of killing or ending a person’s life who is suffering from a painful incurable illness. It is referred to take a person’s life to an end for a reason and motive is to give mercy. Euthanasia comes into occurrence when a person who is under a medical aid and cannot witness any positive signs of returning back for a long period of time. The idea is to save the patient who is on the verge of dying state from an incurable disease, by ending his life prior to the actual natural event
There are different kinds of Euthanasia being categorically classified.
Active Euthanasia- It involves death of the patient through an act that involves some lethal dose of medicine to the patient suffering an incurable disease. It is a Positive act where an act is done to end a life.
Passive Euthanasia- It concerns a process where the medical aid given to a patient is being called off which results in the death of that patient. It is a negative act which requires eliminating of medical aid that has been provided for the survival of the patient who is incurable. For example- A patient who is kept in Ventilator for a long period of time and he is in a position of being incurable, in that case, the Patient is being taken off from the Ventilator.
Voluntary Euthanasia- It is practiced voluntarily with the desire and the formal consent of the patient who has the right tochoose to end his life due to the incurable illness. It is for their better Interest that they decide to discontinue the pain they are facing from a long time. It is regarded that the Voluntary Euthanasia should be legalised on the basis of self-Determination and Right to self autonomy principles. These two principles says that every individual has a value and is worth seeking self respect. Everyone has their basic rights and freedom conferred to them by the Constitution and they are capable to make decisions on themselves.
Involuntary Euthanasia- It is practiced when the patient is killed in absence of any expression by the patient. In this case, the patient would not want him to be killed and have not issued any statement concerning Voluntary Euthanasia.
Non- Voluntary Euthanasia- This kind of Euthanasia is practiced when the person is mentally incompetent to issue any statement to die. It is mostly being done by the patient’s family member. It occurs when the patient is in stage if coma, or if he is too young to be competent enough to make decisions or the patient is mentally retarded or his brain is damaged and is mentally disturbed to not think even to protect himself.
Euthanasia AND SUICIDE
The Right to Death is concerned through two important practices, one being the Euthanasia and the second being Suicide, both having different characteristics and concepts. When a person with intended will and desire causing any reason such as depression or lack of Confidence or any coercion for instance, takes his life to an end, it is known as Suicide.
The High Court at Bombay gave and cleared the difference between the Euthanasia and Suicide in the case of Maruti Shripati Dubal v. State of Maharashtra. The Court held that “suicide is the act of termination of one’s own life, without assistance from someone else while Euthanasia involves an intervention from some external human agency in assisting to take life of the person. Thus, suicide is never coming under the preview of mercy killing.”The difference between both the concepts were further clarified in the case of Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab, where the Court held that Euthanasia is a method of taking life of a patient who is terminally ill or in a constant vegetative state. It will act as a process of acceleration towards natural death. The Court held “Right to die” as an integral part of the Constitution of India under Article 21 and thus it turned down the Judgementin P. Ratinam v. Union of India, where the Court held the Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia as unlawful and stated Section 309 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 as unconstitutional. In NHS Trust v. Bland, the Court held that the treatment where the patient is dependent has to be permitted for withdrawal of such treatment only if the patient is in a condition that is beyond recovery and not curable.
Euthanasia AND IT’S TREND IN INDIA
The Supreme Court of India had legalised Passive Euthanasia in India since 9th March 2018 but through strict rules and guidelines. It involves Patients must give consent in free living will and must be under vegetative state dealing with illness. The Supreme Court passed a landmark and a historic Judgement by permitting Passive Euthanasia in the state. It was the immunity of the patient where they can choose over any authoritative control from Government, Medical Board or any Religious influences and can have their own destiny to end their life in order to get relief from pain. Aruna Shanbaug, who was in a Persistent Vegetative State till her last breath in the year 2015. The Supreme Court in its judgement mentioned two conditions to permit Passive Euthanasia in its 2011 Law:
The Ventilator can be switched off for patients who are brain-dead.
Those Patients who are in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS),for whom the feed can be tapered out and pain-managing Palliatives be addedaccording to laid-down international Specifications.
The Court also decriminalised the Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, the code which penalizes those who survive Suicide-attempts. In December 2014, government of India declared its intention to do so.
SOME INSIGHTS OF ARUNA SHANBAUG CASE
Aruna Shanbaug was a nurse who used to work at the King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. In November 1973, she was grabbed and sodomized by Sohanlal Walmiki, a sweeper who strangled and attacked her with a chain and due to which she suffered deprived oxygen in her body which led her in a vegetative state since then. On behalf of the victim, Pinki Virani who was a social activist and her friend, filed a Petition in the Supreme Court arguing that the “continued existence of Arunain this vegetative stage is violation of her right to live in dignity”. The Supreme Court finally decided on 7 March 2011, after 36 yrs of Immobility and rejected the plea to discontinue Aruna’s life support as the hospital staff who was treating her did not supported Euthanizing her. She died on May 2015 due to pneumonia. However, the Supreme Court issued a set of Broad guidelines legalising passive Euthanasia in India and validated its usage till the Parliament makes law on this regard.
The parents or the Spouse or the Patient’s other close relatives has to make a decision to discontinue life support of the Patient and in the absence of any of them, such a decision can be taken even by a person or a body of persons acting as a next friend or by the doctors attending the patient. However, the decision should be taken bona fide in the best interest of the patient.
Hence, even if a decision is taken by the near relatives or doctors or next friend to withdraw life support, such a decision requires approval from the High Court as stated in the Airedale’s case.
We live in a society where we demand justice for almost everything. There is a need of upliftment in this regard where a person who is not in a position to desire anything, think anything, not able to move or live just like us, the perfect tool as the principle of Euthanasia can give justice to their life and get them their dignity back. It gives them freedom from the pain they have had since long time. It is based on the moral and ethical issues that we should talk about in these recent trends where the world is growing so fast.
There is a need of a paradigm shift from a rigid stringent law towards the sanctity of life for those who require it in full phase. Those who don’t favour Euthanasia says that it is opposing moral, religious and ethical obligations of not taking away the individual’s life by any other or even himself. The legalizing of Euthanasia has pros and cons too. It may be good enough for the person who is surviving in severe pain but it can lead to be dangerous enough if they are misused for an unfair advantage. It should be done in a careful and supervised way and it’s implications should be examined at various intervals and has to be monitored carefully.
Medical science is progressing in a positive and uplifting manner in India as in the rest of the world. The technology that can prolong life by artificial means can be a solution but it can be very costly for the families of the subject in question. In such circumstances, taking end of patient’s life is becoming the alternative and best ethical considerations in the modern-day medical science in India. The proponents and the opponents of Euthanasia and PAS are as active in India as in the rest of the world. The landmark Judgement passed by the Supreme Court has provided a major boost to pro-Euthanasia activists though it is a long way to go before it becomes a law in the parliament. Moreover, concerns for its misuse remain a major issue which ought to be addressed before it becomes a law in our country.