Euthanasia can be defined as an act of putting someone to death through a painless method with the aim of ending pain and suffering resulting from a terminal disease that cannot be cured and will eventually lead to death. Euthanasia can be classified as passive or active. The passive one occurs when one is left to die by not getting or withdrawing treatment. On the other hand, the active one occurs when a medical practitioner performs an act deliberately that leads to the death of a patient such as injection of an overdose. In India, passive euthanasia is legal, but the active one is illegal (Roy 1-33). The debate if to legalize active euthanasia in India is a public issue because some people see the act as a way of giving someone a decent death and helping them have a less painful death while other sees it as unethical and immoral.
The Supreme Court of India should consider the option of legalizing active euthanasia and help patients with terminal diseases have a decent death with less pain and suffering. The move would also enhance the welfare of the family and friends of the patient as they would have less suffering as they care for their loved one. There are countries in the world such as Netherlands where it has been legalized and helped patients, their families and friends from an elongated pain and suffering (Carlson and Ong 553-576). The topic is, however, controversial because it contradicts with most of the religious beliefs in India as well as the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors.
Helping someone to have a relatively shorter pain and a suffering period is an act of humanity. Family and a patient suffering from a terminal disease should not be left to suffer for a long time where eventually the victim will die before recovering. When the only option for a patient suffering from a terminal disease is death, there should be an option legally allowing merciful killing to take place voluntarily. The law should give a patient and family a right to chose the medication that can be administered and to what level. When one is denied the right to die when they are suffering from a terminal disease that they may not recover from, they may undergo through stress and suffering and lose their dignity. Also, after patients learning they will eventually die and do not have a choice to accept death, they lose self-determination and their dignity as human beings. Since self-determination serves a great purpose in ones life, euthanasia should be legalized and allow patients with terminal disease feel that they have control of their life and they can die with dignity. The bill of human rights gives people a right to life and since human life is like a coin, it cannot occur without death, one should be allowed to die when they want especially if one cannot enjoy life anymore till death because of a terminal disease. Finally, legalizing active euthanasia gives physicians a chance express sympathy and mercy, and since they are human beings, they should be given an opportunity to show humanity when requested.
According to Chand in an article arguing why euthanasia should be legalized, it was observed that denying a person with a terminal disease the right to death is unfair since it only prolongs their suffering. Also, it makes physicians work unfriendly because they are a force to act in an inhumane way. Failing to legalize active euthanasia is against human rights since one is compelled to live poor quality life (Chand). The economists argue that active euthanasia should be legalized for those with terminal diseases and prefers to ends their lives; this would preserve their humanity and consequently reduce the period of suffering.
The Supreme Court of India uses different sources of laws in passing Judgment. Some of the laws can be adopted from other countries with the aim of delivering fair and equitable judgment (Roy 1-33). Since the Supreme Court has already legalized passive euthanasia, it should also adopt the law in Netherlands and legalize active euthanasia and save patients with a terminal disease and stop elongating pain and suffering that they may undergo against their will. India is a free and sovereign state whose citizens enjoy all human rights. Therefore citizens should have freedom to choose when to end their life if they are suffering from a terminal disease that enslaves them to pain and suffering the rest of their lifetime.
However, though active euthanasia gives patients a chance to choose when to die, it is seen as immoral and unethical. The most dominant religions in India believe life is sacred and no human being should end the life of the other. For example, Muslims believe ending an innocent life is like killing the whole human race. Christians believe when one ends someones life has committed a sin while Hindus believe life should not be ended and if one does, they will face Karma (Sinha, Sarkhel and Basu 177-183). Also, Hippocratic Oath is also used in defense of rejecting the legalization of euthanasia (De Bruin 23-42). It is argued that doctors take an oath not to prescribe any deadly drug. On this account, it is argued that if euthanasia is legalized, doctors will act against the oath.
Though active euthanasia can be seen as immoral and unethical, the view may be refuted in that its an act of humanity. Having mercy on someone who is suffering is an act that all regions embrace. Hindu for example, views an act of helping other as a good deed and part of fulfilling moral obligation hence helping to end a painful death is a good deed. On the other hand, the Hippocratic Oath requires doctors to keep patients away from harm and injustice (De Bruin 23-42). Failing to assist a patient who is in pain and suffering is harming them and if their wish is not executed especially when there is no way they will recover is doing injustice to them.
Therefore, the supreme court of India should legalize active euthanasia because it would enhance justice. Patients and their family members would have a less painful period than if active euthanasia was not legalized. Doctors would not face criminal charges for helping patients who wished to have their life ended because of terminal diseases and hence they would act in a humane way and be able to sympathize with those suffering from terminal illness. Patients would also be given a chance to have a say over their life and have a more honorable death.
By legalizing active euthanasia, cases of prolonged pain and suffering when one would never recover would reduce. For example, the case of Aruna Shanbaug who stayed in a coma for 42 years and never recovered shows patients should be granted their wish as it would reduce their suffering (Sinha, Sarkhel and Basu 177-183). Moreover, I had a friend who had terminal diseases and committed suicide because after requesting the doctor for euthanasia, the doctor refused. The doctor could not assure my friend that he will recover yet the pain he was undergoing could not be relieved by any medication. His death was painful, and if active euthanasia was legal, he would have had a painless death.
From the fact that patients with severe terminal diseases would not recover and the pain and suffering, would not end till death, I will argue that the Supreme Court of India should legalize active euthanasia. Merciful killing would be an act of humanity rather than unethical and immoral.
Carlson, Whitney L. and Thuan D. Ong. "Suicide In Later Life". Clinics in Geriatric Medicine 30.3 (2014): 553-576. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
Chand, Kailash. "Why We Should Make Euthanasia Legal". The Guradian 2009. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
de Bruin, Boudewijn. "Pledging Integrity: Oaths As Forms Of Business Ethics Management". J Bus Ethics 136.1 (2014): 23-42. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
Roy, Caesar. POSITION OF EUTHANASIA IN INDIA ANANALYTICAL STUDY. 1st ed. 2013. Print.
Sinha, VinodK, S Sarkhel, and S Basu. "Euthanasia: An Indian Perspective". Indian Journal of Psychiatry 54.2 (2012): 177-183. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
"The Right To Die". The Economist. N.p., 2015. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
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