“I’m not afraid of being dead. I’m just afraid of what you might have to go through to get there.”
The Parliament of Belgium on 14 feburary passed the bill allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children of any age, brushing aside all the infuriated remarks from the church and paediatricians. It is twelve years since Belgium legalised euthanasia for adult .In the Netherlands, Belgium’s northern neighbour, euthanasia is legal for children over the age of 12 to alleviate their suffering, if there is parental consent.
Under the Dutch conditions, a patient’s request for euthanasia can be fulfilled by a doctor if the request is “voluntary and well-considered” and the patient is suffering unbearably, with no prospect of improvement.
Opponents argue that children cannot make such a difficult decision. The church states this decision a immoral. ‘The law says adolescents cannot make important decisions on economic or emotional issues, but suddenly they’ve capable of deciding whether they want to continue living,’ Brussels Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, head of the Catholic Church in Belgium, remarked at a prayer vigil last week.
Let’s grasp more of euthanasia. Vinod K. Sinha,in his essay “Euthanasia: An Indian Perspective, pens down ,” The English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon coined the phrase “euthanasia” early in the 17th century. Euthanasia is derived from the Greek word eu, meaning “good” and Thanatos meaning “death,” and early on signified a “good” or “easy” death. Euthanasia is defined as the administration of a lethal agent by another person to a patient for the purpose of relieving the patient’s intolerable and incurable suffering.” He further rights, “The arguments supporting legalization of euthanasia are substantial. Proponents perceive PAS as an act of humanity toward the terminally ill patient. They believe the patient and family should not be forced to suffer through a long and painful death, even if the only way to alleviate the suffering is through suicide. Opposition to legalization of euthanasia has come from numerous perspectives. As frequently noted in the editorial pages of various medical journals, the medical profession is guided by a desire to heal and extend life. This guideline is best exemplified in the Hippocratic Oath which states, “I will prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone. To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug, nor give advice that may cause his death.””
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Talking about Hindu stance on euthanasia, It has been pointed out that in Hinduism, the word for suicide, atma-gatha, has also the elements of intentionality. Vinod Sinha writes’ ” The intention to voluntarily kill oneself for selfish motives was condemned in Hinduism. Subjectively, the evil sprang from a product of ignorance and passion; objectively, the evil encompassed the karmic consequences which impeded the progress of liberation. It was in this context that the Dharmasutras vehemently prohibited suicide.” It has been stated that suicide increases difficulties in lives. Hindu considers death as a model that breaks all the ties that connects man’s soul with cosmic impermanence, and thus the final goal of freedom and immorality is attained. Considering this stance, Indian mind is skeptical about euthanasia and considered it as sacrilege.
However, in India, a country of diversity and different cultures, Euthanasia is more confusing as there is a law that considers suicide as punishable. In India, euthanasia is a crime. Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deals with the attempt to commit suicide and Section 306 of the IPC deals with abetment of suicide – both actions are punishable. Only those who are brain dead can be taken off life support with the help of family members. Likewise, the Honorable Supreme Court is also of the view that that the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of the constitution does not include the right to die.
A major development took place in this field on 7 March 2011. The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment, allowed passive euthanasia. Aruna Shaunbag, lying in a vegetative state in a Mumbai Hospital for 37 years after being assaulted by a ward boy, filled a plea on January 2011, the Supreme Court of India responded to the plea for euthanasia filed by Aruna’s friend journalist Pinki Virani, by setting up a medical panel to examine her. The court turned down the mercy killing petition on 7 March 2011. However in its landmark judgment, it allowed passive euthanasia in India.
Padam K. Khanna, lawyer in High Court, on being asked about his take on the legality of euthanasia in India is of the view ,” India laws states that euthanasia is a crime. Its against the nature and it should not be enforced in the coming future.”
Manuj Mehta, professor in YMCA, is of the view-” One of the big argument against euthanasia is that it is irreversible. Once the patient is gone, we will never know if his unexpected recovery was just round the corner, or if he might have gone on to lead a healthy life. The fact is, in all nations where euthanasia is legal, it is the near exclusive preserve of the terminally ill. And despite the all day drama that talks about terminally ill, it exactly is the final stop before death.”
The fulcrum inclines on the inimical side of euthanasia. Despite Belgium’s step of legalizing euthanasia, majority of people are against it. Like victor frankenstein, who “created” a giant creature in his lab and gave life to it battling against the laws of nature, euthanasia is also against nature and let death come naturally.