Monday, June 30, 2008

Euthanasia-"To do or not to do"

With the India Supreme Court ruling that attempted suicide cannot be treated as crime, it has opened up a debate on Euthanasia. Personally, I don’t think the two are the same and can be compared or meted equal treatment. What I am going to attempt to do is dissect the two and make some sense of it
Suicide: Suicide originate from the Latin word ‘Suicidium’ meaning to kill oneself. It is the act of taking one’s own life. The reasons for suicide could be many like depression, hurt, pain, anger, and frustration, real or perceived difficulties in life. Suicide can be attempted or it can be a gesture or it can be ideation. What this means is that an one can attempt to kill oneself and may have been unsuccessful for various reasons, a gesture is a try with the hope and thought that one will ultimately be rescued and ideation is the thought of suicide which plagues a person’s mind- this thought can be vague or detailed. There are about a million people who die of suicide each year and about 10 to 20million who attempt it.
A lot of Religions like Islam, Christianity and Hinduism which consider it a dishonorable act and condone suicide. The reason behind it could be to help people or prevent people from taking their lives and not use it as a tool to threaten them.
People who attempt suicide are ill mentally and are crying out for help. To try these people for attempt to life and treat them like criminals is the worst possible punishment that can be meted out. What they need is healing, treatment and help which is why I think the Supreme Court’s decision should be hailed and put into practice immediately.
Euthanasia: Euthanasia originates from the Greek words ‘EU’ and
which mean means ‘Good death’ or ‘Dying Well’. To understand euthanasia and the implications of legalizing or not legalizing the same, we need to understand the different aspects of Euthanasia-medical, legal and social. Euthanasia can be voluntary, involuntary, passive, non-aggressive or aggressive. Voluntary Euthanasia refers to a situation wherein a person has given his consent for the same, involuntary euthanasia refers to a relative or close associate taking a decision on behalf of the person who is rendered incapable of deciding. Passive, aggressive and non-aggressive are the various means by which euthanasia can be carried out.
Medically a lot of doctors may not be in favor of euthanasia since it goes against the Hippocratic Oath. Legally, there is always a case of misuse which is possible. In a world where everything is for sale, wont be to difficult to get someone euthanized for material gains, revenge etc if legalized. Socially, it ruffles a lot of feathers since many relegions believe it to be a dishonorable act.

Everyone has a right to die with dignity- to let some whose bones can crack with just a hug continue living for long when every breath itself is a punishment. I think the best way would be to allow euthanasia for those who can give voluntary consent. WRT cases where voluntary consent is not possible it is best to have mix of guidelines to help reach a decision.
There can be no absolute answer for it, euthanasia cannot be viewed as just right or wrong, black or white-just like life it is grey.

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