Let me Die...Why can't I?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


We often wonder on Life After Death, how about life before death? Can we call a human alive by keeping a it alive with a feeding tube because said person cannot eat on their own after 17 years is true ignorance. Shall each person should have the right to die as they wish and not be kept alive by tube feedings. All she did is breathe. Takes more than that to be truly alive!!!


Doctors were removing all life support last night from an Italian woman in a coma (she died later ) whose “right to die” has triggered a constitutional crisis and provoked an intervention from the Pope. The case has sparked an open power struggle between Mr Berlusconi and President Napolitano. In a last-minute move on Friday Mr Berlusconi sided with the Vatican and drew up an emergency decree to prevent Ms Englaro’s death. President Napolitano refused to sign it on the ground that the Prime Minister could not arbitrarily overturn a legal ruling and that such a sensitive issue had to be fully debated by parliament.

Ethical Issues in Terminal Health Care
Medical science has brought remarkable changes to our lives. Because of advances in medical technology, more people live longer, and more productively, than any generation in history. Unfortunately, these advances have created problems as well. The longer people live, the more likely they are to encounter chronic disease that requires long-term health care. Medical advances have also brought economic consequences -- these new technologies have a price tag! Most important, these advances have created ethical dilemmas that no generation of doctors has ever had to face. New life-sustaining techniques and practices are forcing hospitals to ask questions that never needed to be asked before. Foremost of these is the question, How far do we go to save a life?

Other questions challenge the very notion of what it means to be a doctor. A doctor's commitment has traditionally been to sustain life, to comfort and to heal. Today, though, physicians are able to sustain lives which have no hope of ever again being meaningful, which brings us to the question: when suffering is immeasurable, and a patient's condition terminal, should doctors be permitted to end a patient's life?

Syndromes like persistent vegetative state and the immense suffering caused by prolonged cancers have many people, including some doctors, wondering if it wouldn't be more humane for physicians to do more than merely withdraw treatment, but to actually assist in hastening death.

Health Care at a Crossroads

When you prolong the life of a cancer patient, the natural history of the disease advances and you see complications you did not see before, doctors uses a term for these complications: Diseases of medical progress.I think this age might be called The Age of the Tyranny of Technology. Because technologies exist, there seems to be -- in the medical profession at least -- an assumption that the technologies must be used. We are coming now to see the terrible dilemmas that the overuse of technologies have brought to us but we are using what I feel are the wrong ways to address this. I believe there need to be more questions asked about when or whether to use the new machines and techniques in the first place. I believe that medical science and public policy should understand that when a technology is being used, it can be discontinued under the principle of the Benefit/Burden concept. When the burden to the total well-being of the patient outweighs the benefit, the treatment becomes senseless. Also morally, extraordinary means of treatment need not be used in the first place.

Ethics Committees
According to an article in Healthcare Executive magazine, more than half the nation's hospitals have created ethics committees for the purpose of understanding and addressing the various ethical dilemmas health care professionals are facing today. On the local scene, all three Duluth hospitals and an increasing number of nursing homes have ethics committees. This article is about the role these committees play in decisions made in our local hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.The committees serve three basic functions. The first is education, Education of its staff as well as its patients and the community about the ethical dimensions of health care. The second is policies, making sure the policies in that institution are ethical.The third is to review cases and care that is provided in the institution and to work as a consultant in those times when the cases are difficult.The people who serve on ethics committees come from many walks of life, though in many instances a majority are doctors.


How do ethics committees influence hospital medical decisions
I would guess that half the members are doctors, so that you have eight or ten members on each committee at each hospital that are physicians, and then there are nurses, lay people, clergy, lawyers, behavioral scientists and ethicists. The committees provide a forum for the exchange of ideas. They follow the literature from all of the disciplines -- the legal literature, the religious literature, the scientific literature, the political literature -- and meet on a regular basis to discuss the difficult issues. So they are sort of a think tank that keeps abreast of all these issues. The knowledge and understanding that has been gained through study and discussions within the committee is then spread by various means through the medical community -- to physicians and nurses. Some of it simply by talking to people, some of it by bringing an issue to the entire medical staff, inviting the medical staff to come and listen to a presentation on an ethical issue that is confronting the hospital or the doctors and the nurses on a regular basis. They also issue position papers, and share what they have discussed in medical staff newsletters and committee reports or minutes.In addition to these activities, committee members are also available as formal or informal consultants to doctors dealing with difficult issues.


Local Perpsectives on the Right-to-Die Debate (ITALY)
For many people, the issue of doctor assisted suicide is very disturbing. The whole concept of doctor assisted suicide is a sad commentary on where we are societally. My personal viewpoint is that the whole concept is a total distortion of the basic commitment of the physician to support and help life. I cannot see how a physician can legitamize bringing about death.Nevertheless, this is not a universal consensus. More than one person has suggested -- a Michigan physician whose "suicide machine" has been used by three patients -- has brought attention to an important problem, even though he is "the wrong spokesman for the right issue." David Mayo, Ph.D. and professor of philosophy at UMD and member of The Hemlock Society, put it this way. "I'm sympathetic to what Kervorkian is doing, but I'm unsympathetic to his modus operandi. I think he's a bit of a loose cannon, to be perfectly honest. A loose cannon who loves publicity." Dr. Mayo stated that he prefers Derek Humphry as the spokesman for this issue. Derek

Humphry and other proponents of doctor assisted suicide usually build their case around two main arguments. Those two arguments, according to Dr. Mayo, are the mercy argument -- the notion of sparing someone unnecessary suffering -- and the self-determination argument, the right to determine one's own fate or level of care while dying."Against that," Dr. Mayo adds, "the primary argument is the 'very slippery slope' argument. What will this lead to?"

WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE?

What is evident, then, is the problem of where to draw the lines. There is a wide range of opinions as to what is acceptable and unacceptable here. Many of the doctors interviewed by The Senior Reporter seemed to place that line between passive and active euthanasia. Do Not Resuscitate Orders might be considered a form of passive euthanasia. Several doctors refered to the concept of "futile treatment", wherein a doctor is not obligated to use extraordinary intervention when its ultimate effect is obviously going to be futile.

Carolyn Schmidt, who opposes both doctor assisted suicide and active euthanasia, strongly supports the non-use or withdrawal of extraordinary means of treatment such as respirators. "I don't feel morally we are required to use these," she said. "But there is a big difference between withdrawing or not using a technology and developing a technology of killing."Identifying and clarifying these terms and developing rational standards for making difficult decisions has been a major role of the hospitals' medical ethics committees.

IF NOT HIPPOCRATES, WHAT THEN?

  • At bottom in all these matters is the question,
  • How do we go about determining what is right and wrong in a given situation?
  • What are the components of an ethical decision?
  • How can physicians, patients and their families -- or courts -- decide?
  • Ethics has to do with decisions that involve making a distinction between right and wrong.

In its simplest form, an ethical determination is an assessment of a moral act based on

  • (1) what we do,
  • (2) how we do it,
  • (3) when we do it, and
  • (4) our motivation for doing it, or why we do it.

But behind these criteria are also underlying assumptions about the meaning and value of life.

  • Is human life inherently sacred?
  • Or is value determined by one's current contributions to society as a whole?
  • This latter utilitarian view comes dangerously close to resembling the social engineering of physicians and geneticists under Hitler's Germany of the thirties.

Making The Final Choice: Should Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legalized?
Medical advances have created ethical dilemmas which no previous generation of doctors has ever faced. New life-sustaining techniques and practices are forcing physicians to ask questions that never needed to be asked before. Foremost of these is:

How far do we go to save a life? Other questions challenge ethical traditions which have been in place for centuries.

  • When suffering is immeasurable and a patient's condition terminal, should doctors be permitted to end a patient's life?
  • Should doctors take an active role in hastening a patient's death?
  • Today, more than ever, the push is on to "change the rules.,

By all accounts a time of decision is upon us. When a fully conscious person requests death, should a physician -- contrary to the Hippocratic oath -- assist the person in dying? It is the purpose of this brief article to present a concise overview of the primary arguments for and against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. Without a careful consideration of the concerns on both sides, we can find ourselves saddled with ill-conceived policies that do not serve our best interests and will not be easily dislodged.There are four primary arguments for legalizing physician-assisted suicide.

They are:

!.The Mercy Argument, which states that the immense pain and indignity ofprolonged suffering cannot be ignored. We are being inhumane to force peopleto continue suffering in this way.

2. The Patient's Right to Self-determination. Patient empowerment has been atrend for more than twenty-five years. "It's my life, my pain. Why can't Iget the treatment I want?"

3. The Economics Argument, which notes that the cost of keeping people aliveis exceedingly high. Who's footing the bill for the ten thousand peoplebeing sustained in a persistent vegetative state? Aren't we wasting preciousresources when an already used up life is prolonged unnecessarily?

4. The Reality Argument runs like this: "Let's face it, people are already doing it."

There are a variety of arguments against legalizing physician- assisted suicide. Here are the most widely cited concerns:

l. Medical doctors are not trained psychiatrists. Many, if not most, people have wished they could die rather than face some difficult circumstance in their lives. Doctors who are given authority to grant this wish may not always recognize that the real problem is a treatable depression, rather than the need to fulfill a patient's death wish.

I know many individuals with significant disabilities: quadriplegia, post-polio survivors, persons with MS, etc. A number of them have tried committing suicide in the past and are now thankful that a mechanism wasn't in place that would have assured their death, because they got over whatever was bothering them at the time and are happy with life again.

2. How will physician-assisted suicide be regulated? This is Carlos Gomez's forced argument, developed after investigating the Netherlands' experience, and presented in his book Regulating Death. "How will we assure ourselves that the weak, the demented, the vulnerable, the stigmatized -- those incapable of consent or dissent -- will not become the unwilling objects of such a practice? No injustice," Gomez contends, "would be greater than being put to death, innocent of crime and unable to articulate one's interests. It is the possibility -- or in my estimation, the likelihood -- of such injustice occurring that most hardens my resistance for giving public sanction to euthanasia."

3. The "Slippery Slope" Argument. A Hemlock Society spokesperson acknowledges this to be the strongest argument against legalization. In ethical dialogue, it is conceded that there are situations when an acceptable action should not be taken because it will lead to a course of consequent actions that are not acceptable. Our attitudes toward the elderly, people with disabilities and the devaluation of individuals for the "higher good of society" should be reflected upon. How long will it bebefore our "right to die" becomes our "duty to die"?

4. The "Occasional Miracle" Argument. Sometimes remarkable recoveries occur. Sometimes diagnoses are far afield of the reality. Countless stories could be told. I know a few first hand. How about you?

5. Utilitarian versus sacred view of life. This is probably a subset of the Slippery Slope argument, focusing on our cultural shift in attitude toward what it means to be human. Huxley's Brave New World vividly demonstrates an aspect of this argument. We need to be reminded of the role social engineers, doctors and geneticists played in 1930's Germany. Are weimportant only as long as we are making a contribution to society? Or is value something inherent in our being human? History has shown that when we devalue human beings, we open the door to abuse. The U.S. Supreme Court, inits Dred Scott decision, declared that blacks were not persons. This devaluation helped permit slavery and inhumane treatment of blacks to continue.

6. What effect will this have on doctor/patient trust? People who traditionally rely on their doctors to provide guidance in their health care decisions may become confused, even alarmed, when one of the treatment options presented is the death machine at the end of the hall. According to Leon R. Kass, distinguished M.D. from the University of Chicago, the tabooagainst doctors killing patients, even on request, "is the very embodiment of reason and wisdom. Without it, medicine will have lost its claim to be an ethical and trustworthy profession." Kass asserts that "patient's trust in the whole-hearted devotion to the patient's best interests will be hard to sustain once doctors are licensed to kill."

7. What about doctors who don't believe in killing? Will they be required by law to prescribe a treatment [death] they don't believe in?ConclusionsClearly, the ethical dilemmas surrounding terminal health care will be with us for years to come. There are more than seventy million baby boomers in this country, most of whom are currently grappling with the issue of aging parents. And in the decades to come we ourselves won't be getting any younger.Ironically, our current situation is due in large part to the successes of medical science, not its failures.

More people live longer today than ever in history because we have eliminated many of the diseases that once terrorized us as a society.But some of the problem is due in part to our love affair with technology. When machines, tubes and computers take over, compassion and common sense sometimes seem to suffer.

Fortunately, there seems to be an increased awareness of the intrusiveness of technology. Living wills, ethics committees and hospice care are all responses to this awareness.How we choose to die in America is a complicated subject that needs clear thinking and a fair discussion of the ethical and technical dilemmas surrounding it. But let's keep in mind that even if we agreed that death technologies are wrong, this would not be an endorsement of the notion that people must be kept alive for as long as possible at any cost.

114 comments:

Dr.Nishi Chauhan said...

I have never understood why Christians are so determinedd to preserve life of any quality. According to the Christian creed, the quickest path to eternal bliss is to be born, to be baptised and to die immediately. Why cruelly deprive Eluana of heaven by keeping her alive?

Anonymous said...

why don't we let nature takes it natural cause and remove all artificial machines.
God did not create humanity to be supported by machines.

Dr. Pragya bajaj said...

What is artificial? The fact is, Ms Englaro is alive , her body able to metabolize food and water, and is possibly mentally aware. Her situation is heart-rending, yet refusing to nourish her is inhuman, and ultimately not compassionate to her or to anyone involved

Dr. Gunjan Gehlot said...

she wass neither alive nor dead. in nature before modern medicine)she who die that is nature ans religious people would think that is how it should be. so keeping her alive is more againist their god than doing what the doctors are doing so dear pope look at that way and argue againist life support

Dr.Rita Raman said...

How on earth the Pope has such dedicated time to deal with agonizing people who are almost dead? Can't he spend his efforts on bringing peace and rejoice to the living? He must be really bored and looking for a reason to fight for in his lifetime!

Anonymous said...

i think she's still 'alive' only because the medicines they give to her. They keep her body alive, but after 17 years of vegetative and PERMANENT COMA how could you say that she's still LIVING A LIFE?!Can you imagine how long is her suffer?It's not a murder, it's just an act of human pietas.

Anonymous said...

any kinds of life should be respected as a life. No one has right to take life of others. God will bless everyone!!

Dr.Rita Raman said...

When a person is not expected to escape a coma, it should only be the decision of the family and doctors together, if the victim has not previously declared their view.

Anonymous said...

If I was the father I would say my good bye, and ask the church to look after the dead body, if they are so against the right to die they should step up and do something apart from just telling people what they should and shouldn't do.

Shweta Saxena said...

Here is the main point: make your living will TODAY, stating your wishes on life support. In this day of modern medicine, we will witness more of these painful cases. Save your family members the heartache of having to make this kind of decision.

Anonymous said...

The right to die is a secular principle that should be defended by all governments. The Church, a special-interest group, must not be allowed to impose its views on everyone through undue influence on secular government.

Anonymous said...

If my beloved daughter were to be in the medical condition of that poor girl, I would wish she be allowed to die. "Living", and "not dying" are not the same. We must see that. Doctors can often prevent death - without restoring life. It is pitiful. Have compassion for the family. Let her go

Ruchika Mittal said...

i think as the family obviously have loved and cared for their daughter they are the ones in the best positoion to decide what to do for the best; i am sure it was not an easy decision to come to .instead of debating the rights and wrongs we should offer a small prayer for all involved.

Anonymous said...

I am a Catholic, and the God that I love and respect would not want anybody kept artificially alive. That in itself is a cruelty, a crime against humanity. The medical profession should be asking itself not about the endless quest to keep people alive but respecting that death comes to us all.

Ben Pembridge, London

Anonymous said...

Rachel, if she were dead, you wouldn't have to STARVE & DEHYDRATE her now, would you? You don't kill someone who is already dead- you simply have to claim she's dead to ease your guilt about killing her.

Yes,we try to avoid letting animals suffer, but do we, once again STARVE & DEHYDRATE them?

Jacqueline , Denton, TX

Anonymous said...

this is a difficult decision to make for any family, but i believe it should be a decision of family and doctors, not government or even the church. Each case is different and very personal. Just because we can keep people's bodies alive indefinitely, does not mean we 'have' to.

deanarue, boise, usa

Anonymous said...

p.s. she's not asleep. She's dead. There's a difference.

Rachel, Milano, Italy

Anonymous said...

If she's been asleep for 17 years, it is hardly her wishing to die. It is other people wanting her dead, and by an unusually brutal and painful method.

Steve Schaper, Red Cloud,

Richa Saxena said...

yes so do I we don't let animals suffer but humans are expected to. I agree with the pope, one should have the right.

Er. Nidhi Mishra said...

The Englaro case has become a symbol for the Vatican’s “pro-life” campaign but also for right-to-die campaigners. after Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, implored him to “stop this crime against humanity”.

Anonymous said...

The Federalist Society is a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in law and public policy. It is founded on the principle that the state exists to preserve freedom and that it is the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it ought to be. The Society seeks to promote an awareness of these principles and to further them through its activities.
What is more, the focus on end-of-life issues is likely to continue. In the aftermath of Schiavo case, a number of state legislatures are considering new guidelines to govern end-of-life decisions. Moreover, the Supreme Court in its next term is slated to review the federal government's efforts to curtail Oregon's 1997 Death With Dignity Act. Oregon is the only state law so far that allows for assisted suicide in cases involving the terminally ill.

These events – past, present and future – throw up a host of questions, certainly too many for me to list here. On a very basic level, you might ask what principles should govern end-of-life decisions, and what role should the federal and state governments play in making and enforcing these decisions? Here with us to answer these and other questions is a truly distinguished panel of experts. We have provided relatively detailed biographies of each of the speakers for you, but let me just briefly introduce each of them in the order in which they will appear.

DAVID MASCI

Anonymous said...

So what is that consensus? In its core it's that the patients have a right to decide about and to refuse any treatment. They have a right to select from among available alternative treatments or medically acceptable alternative treatments, but to refuse any treatment. And that consensus has rejected a number of limits, which over the last several decades have been thought by some to qualify that right. For example, it was thought certainly in the '80s that while it was permissible not to start life-sustaining treatment, it at least was a more weighty matter and sometimes impermissible not to stop it.

That distinction has been largely rejected, and it's now held that there is no moral or legal difference between stopping and not starting a life-sustaining treatment. It has often appealed to the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary measures, where ordinary measures were thought to be obligatory and extraordinary measures were permissible to forego.

That distinction too was interpreted many different ways, and so it led to confusion. That distinction has largely dropped out of the public policy literature; it still has important weight within particular religious traditions, most prominently the Catholic religious tradition, but it has largely dropped out as a constraint on public policy and moral permissibility.

Another distinction that had some weight during this time was whether the patient was terminally ill. It was thought by some that terminally ill patients could refuse life-sustaining treatment but non-terminally ill patients couldn't. This is obviously relevant to the Schiavo case because she was not terminally ill by the ordinary understanding – the ordinary understanding being expected to die within six months no matter what treatment is provided. That too has been rejected and it has become accepted that a patient, whether or not terminally ill, has a right to refuse any treatment.

Brook, Italy

Anonymous said...

I want to thank David Masci and the Pew Forum, and the Federalist Society for the event for a couple of reasons. One is it's nice be invited to something like this, but the second is that during the Schiavo case, one of the things that I was asked to do as an expert was to provide medical information about not just advance directives but about hospice care, end-of-life care generically and the clinical conditions under which people die.

And one of the things that I found alarming, in fact stunning, was the degree to which the press – and I apologize to my colleagues in the press – is grossly misinformed or uninformed. It was a time for there to have been general public education and I think we missed it. I think we missed it on a number of different grounds. I do think that the information that actually got out was inappropriate, and in fact false to a huge extent, and I'll give you one small example.

The hospice that took care of Terri Schiavo did a superb job from a medical standpoint to be able to take care of a woman who is in a persistent vegetated state or a minimally conscious state or whatever we choose to call that state for 15 years without decubitus ulcers, etc. That speaks to the care that the nurses and the physicians took with this particular woman. And so the first thing that I want to suggest is – and I say this with some self-interest – that the knock that hospices got in this case was grossly misinformed and very inappropriate.

DR. CARLOS GOMEZ

Soul Searcher said...

Nice post. I would think that the context in India would be different from that in the US for example. The medically assisted "killing' would be more justiifed if the money and treatment could help save another person live a normal life.

Either way the decision is not easy and not without an ethics controversy.

Anonymous said...

And so the legal inference of simultaneous death was adopted to simplify the probate, and indeed, it took place even when we knew to a biological certainty it was not simultaneous, where, for example, if one person was declared dead at the accident scene and another one wasn't declared dead until after an attempt to resuscitate in the emergency room, so the declaration of death was manifestly hours later, nonetheless under statute would be considered a simultaneous death because socially the biological categories seemed pointless, and they would drive us to social customs and rules that seemed equally pointless.

Biology also is often ambiguous, but the law can't afford to be. Here I refer to the phenomenon of so-called intersex. People who have a Y chromosome but are presenting as female, including in things like muscle strength, are nonetheless, because of a Y chromosome, alleged to be ineligible to compete as women in the Olympics, or in the case of one British election, ineligible to stand on the women's list for a special parliamentary election.

The second thread that connects these cases to me is the degree to which various people and religions accord specific kinds of moral value to non-sentient biological human life. And then the degree to which there is a call for the law to (A) accept the primacy of biology in constructing a definition, and then, because of that, (B) to then attach a particular dominant moral value that correlates with each biological definition that is in play concerning the nature of the life.

One of the ironies I find here that doesn't seem to be noticed often is the intriguing way in which the debate is often portrayed as religion versus science or religious people versus scientists, or people of faith versus people of empiricism, or however it's phrased. One of the interesting things is the degree to which, in some sense, there is a reversal of positions. That is, among people who call themselves religious, a frequent argument that will be made is to resort to biology and say, "Look, this embryo has a human genome, or this body in the hospice is a human woman," and from that biological fact one draws ineluctably the conclusion that certain kinds of human rights accrue from sheer biology. And it's even in some ways a very limited notion of biology when you get to the abortion and embryo research areas because it's not even about the embodiment; it's about just the presence of DNA, and just the presence of a very small amount of DNA that distinguishes this embryo from the embryo of a chimpanzee.

Dr. Carlos, France

Anonymous said...

Mr. Avinash

Your article is wonderful, and a very important issue that can't be ignored in our society. I used to teasingly tell my mother that if she got old and senile...this was before Alzheimer's Disease actually had a name and was a prevalent as it is now..I was going to just push her off a mountain. And she wanted me to do that. After having a major stroke a year ago plus fracturing her hip last Fall, she still wants to live to spend time with her children and grandchildren. Granted, her mind is no more affected than it ever was, so there isn't a consideration of "pushing her off a mountain" anymore..*

As a nurse, I also have had to deal with the right to die issue many times, but it was always with Cancer patients. I do know that many times, I gave the final dose of a narcotic which pushed someone towards death.

To answer your question about Alzheimer's Disease and what I would do if diagnosed with it or had a family member diagnosed with it, I know that for myself at the age of 51 that if I were diagnosed with it, I would set in motion a plan to end my life when it seemed that I was becoming a burden to my children. I would set a plan involving someone I trusted, who would know when the right time was to give me an overdose. And the planning would have to be in writing and carefully thought through before the disease destroyed my brain totally. I can say this now because I don't have Alzheimer's Disease, and I certainly would not put the burden of killing me upon my children. With Alzheimer's Disease, it is not usually suicide because the person is incapable of thinking through it when the disease has destroyed their brain. I would not commit suicide, but rather let the disease just take its course with a trusted friend aware of what I wanted. There is always hope of a cure, even with Cancer, and the hope is important for quality of life.

If it was a family member, such as one of my parents, I would ask them what they wanted at the beginning of the disease. If that was impossible, I would discuss the issue with my siblings and the other parent to make sure that there were not going to be any legal consequences that hadn't been worked out. Caring for someone with Alzheimer's Disease is extremely exhausting both physically and mentally. Nursing homes can be expensive, and in some instances all the money is spent on the ill person, leaving little or nothing for the remaining family members to live on.

Spiritually, I do not believe in suicide or murder, yet I also believe that God is Good, and He doesn't want people to suffer needlessly.

I just hope I never have to actually deal with this issue, and that a cure is found.

Cynthia

Puja said...

Italy's President, Giorgio Napolitano, said Mr Berlusconi had acted unconstitutionally when he issued an emergency decree to prevent the woman's life-support machine from being disconnected.

He accused Mr Berlusconi of over-ruling a previous court decision to allow Ms Englaro to die.

Mr Berlusconi, who has a parliamentary majority, said an emergency session of parliament would enact a new law barring doctors halting nutrition to patients in a coma.

Shilpi Verma said...

Opponents of the right to die give much argument that often includes reference to God (or another deity). The arguments are so daring it's a wonder they need God at all. As it turns out, they don't.

Many people who oppose the right to die believe in life after death. Assuming for a moment that there is life after death, there is no logical reason why a person who is completely paralyzed and/or in abject pain should be denied entry into the hereafter against their will. The only justification for making someone else suck it up is the idea that God wouldn't like it if someone took his or her own life

Shilpi Verma said...

So what?

So then God would banish that person to hell. This is not about life. This isn't even about death. This is about how each and every one of us spends eternity - whether we believe in it or not. Someone wanting to die could just wait until they suffocate from the force of the opposition shoving their beliefs down their throat.

At the center of the controversy is the naturalness of it. There is nothing natural about ending our lives and/or ending the life of someone else who is physically incapable of doing so - even if death is their, you know, dying wish. Naturalness (rather the lack of it) is also the argument against abortion, birth control, fertility treatments, and stem cell research.

Only God, it is asserted, can give and justifiably take life. Unfortunately for those who wish to end their own suffering, this is where the opposition's belief in the power of God ends - and belief in their own power begins.

There is absolutely nothing natural about life-saving technology. And yet, it is a human being who does — with full employment of this very artificiality — deny someone entry into the hereafter.

Those opposed to the right to die have their cake and are eating it, too - right off someone else's dying body.

Shilpi Verma said...

that was well written article

Anonymous said...

Last Friday, in accordance with a cassation court ruling of November 2008, doctors in a clinic in the northern city of Udine began reducing Eluana’s nutrition in preparation for the removal of her feeding tubes. That cassation court ruling had looked like a definitive judgment marking the end of a 10-year, right-to-die legal battle by Beppino Englaro, father of Eluana. He had campaigned for the right to disconnect her feeding tubes, in accordance, he says, with her own wishes expressed before the 1992 car accident that left her in a “persistent vegetative state

Anonymous said...

In a dramatic turn of events, however, Mr Berlusconi attempted to introduce a decree that would, de facto, have reversed the earlier ruling by making it illegal to suspend food and water.

Calling the decree “inopportune”, Mr Napolitano refused to sign it into law both because it would have overruled an existing court ruling and also because it concerned a complex matter that should be brought before parliament.

Arguing that some sort of intervention was absolutely necessary, Mr Berlusconi justified his decree, saying: “I put myself in the shoes of any father. If one of my children was lying there, alive and, as people tell me, looking well and with her bodily functions such as her menstrual cycle still active, then I really wouldn’t be able to bring myself to pull the plug.”

Having failed to fill the legislative vacuum on this end-of-life issue by the fast-track path of a government decree, Mr Berlusconi now hopes to rush a Bill through parliament this week.

Such a lightning fast parliamentary passage is highly unusual in a country where the enactment of controversial legislation can take years, let alone days.

In the meantime, it is unclear just how long it will take for Eluana to die.

Anonymous said...

The first vote on the Bill could come as early as tonight when the matter comes before the Senate. However, the Bill’s progress could be at least temporarily halted by filibustering in the lower house from Radical party deputies. Were this to happen, the government will most likely speed up the parliamentary process by calling for a vote of confidence on the issue.

Clearly upset by the impending political intervention, Eluana’s father issued a dramatic call on Saturday to both Mr Napolitano and Mr Berlusconi.

Saying that he was speaking “father to father”, Mr Englaro invited both men to come, “alone”, to the clinic in Udine to assess “privately” for themselves the true condition of Eluana.

He said that inaccurate media reports about his daughter’s condition had proved both confusing and misleading. Mr Englaro was speaking from his home in Lecco where he has remained in order to look after his gravely ill wife, Saturnia, mother of Eluana.

Italian public opinion remains deeply divided by the issue. While those in favour of the right to die staged protests in Naples and in front of parliament over the weekend, other protesters have been holding a vigil outside the Udine clinic, calling on the doctors not to disconnect Eluana’s feeding tubes.

Anonymous said...

Italian public opinion remains deeply divided by the issue. While those in favour of the right to die staged protests in Naples and in front of parliament over the weekend, other protesters have been holding a vigil outside the Udine clinic, calling on the doctors not to disconnect Eluana’s feeding tubes.

Throughout this tormented public debate, the Catholic Church has repeatedly made itself heard with Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, last weekend calling the treatment of Eluana “murder”.

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday called for respect “for the dignity of human life even when the person is weak and suffering”. Yesterday, during his Sunday Angelus address, he called for prayers for the sick, “especially for the most seriously sick and those who are totally in the hands of others”.

Anonymous said...

For more than 14 years, the Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC), a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, non-profit organization, has been the leading advocate in the death with dignity movement. Leaders in our organization originally wrote and have continued advocating for the Oregon Death with Dignity Law. DDNC has met these challenges through extensive legal defense of the Oregon law, education and outreach programs, and by developing and nurturing diverse financial resources with one goal in mind: to ensure DDNC's financial vitality and its position as a leader in the death with dignity movement.

Your donation today will enable us to continue to advocate for the right of the terminally ill to die with dignity

Anonymous said...

On the other side are low-income Americans and members of minorities, especially African-Americans, who may suspect that talk of ending treatment and allowing patients to die will work especially to their disadvantage.

Those who have helped make end-of-life medical decisions for loved ones or thought a great deal about their own preferences are more likely to entertain the possibility of ending treatment, whether for themselves or others; they are also more likely to believe that suicide can be morally justified and to favor doctor-assisted suicide.

Those hoping for ethical consensus in this area will take heart from the growth the survey found in Americans' readiness to discuss end-of-life questions.

Anonymous said...

Ninety-five percent of the public has heard of living wills, up from 71 percent in 1990. Almost 30 percent now report having one, up from 12 percent in 1990. Spouses are discussing their wishes regarding end-of-life treatment with each other. So are adult children with elderly parents.

The number of Americans either not thinking about these matters or not discussing them with anyone is sharply down since 1990. So are suspicions that medical personnel ignore the views of patients and families anyway. And a third of those attending religious services at least once or twice a month report hearing clergy members address end-of-life issues — not as many as recall their clergyman or woman speaking about abortion (52 percent) or Iraq (50 percent) but more than on the death penalty (27 percent).

Whenever the next round of debates begins, the public

Abgela, New York, USA

Anonymous said...

We will have to act quickly, because exceptional cases like that of Chantal Sebire are occurring regularly,” Chatel said. The euthanasia debate also occurs regularly in France, where polls show many sympathise with suffering patients seeking a painless death but balk at legalising active euthanasia. The 2005 law was passed after a mother helped a doctor end the life of her son who was left blind, mute and paralysed after a road accident and campaigned for 2-1/2 years for permission to have a lethal injection.

Anonymous said...

Every person has the righty to be in control of their own destiny, and if it has come to a point in their lives, that death is the only option, then they should have the legal to have a Doctor humanely put them to sleep without interference from the State or Government - Or family, for that matter!

A person has the right to live and the right to die if they have control over it. Birth control and Abortion are also a woman's right to have, if she so wants, without outside interference!

Tracy said...

Every person shall have the right to die with dignity; this right shall include the right to choose the time of one's death and to receive medical and pharmaceutical assistance to die painlessly. No physician, nurse or pharmacist shall be held criminally or civilly liable for assisting a person in the free exercise of this right

Tracy said...

Within the next half century, perhaps much sooner, the right to choose to die with dignity will be as widely recognized as the right to free speech or to exercise one's religion.

It will cease to be called euthanasia or mercy killing. It will not be viewed as killing, but as a fundamental human right as expressed in the imaginary constitutional amendment above.

In Europe, euthanasia is already sanctioned by law in Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland. In the United States, the state of Oregon has also allowed it.

Anonymous said...

Potassium chloride is a fatal poison. The dose was prescribed by a doctor and administered by a nurse acting on the doctor's orders. Prior to the fatal dose, the patient suffered from fever, trembling, incontinence, nausea, pain and an intestinal blockage causing vomiting of fecal matter.

The nurse was indicted for assassination and the doctor for assisting. The charges were later changed to poisoning. The two accused risked maximum prison sentences of 30 years.

After four days of trial the nurse was acquitted and the doctor was given a one-year suspended sentence. The court also ordered that the conviction not be registered in national government files, which will enable the doctor to continue to practice. It is not clear who initiated the prosecution. Neither the husband nor the son of the deceased woman pressed charges. In fact, they supported and thanked both doctor and nurse. The prosecution argued that the principle of not killing must be upheld, but the jury did not agree.

The decision shows once again that laws are a lagging indicator of social change.

France revised its law in 2005 and now permits what it terms passive euthanasia, which may mean withholding treatment or giving painkillers in such a massive dose that the patient can slide into an eternal sleep. But it forbids active euthanasia such as the use of potassium chloride.

A generation ago, in 1980, a number of people in France formed an Association for the Right to Die with Dignity (ADMD), which now has over 40,000 members. As medical care improves and people live longer, one can expect to see more such associations around the world, and eventually a change in perspective.

At present, the law focuses on the act of the physician or nurse, and not on the rights of the patient. As that focus shifts so that the right of the patient to die with dignity becomes paramount, one can expect to see the law proclaim a fundamental right.

The fear of abuse by doctors, nurses, or family members wishing to do away with an unruly patient or parent will recede.

Anonymous said...

Every time we step into an automobile we run the risk of being killed or seriously injured. Yet despite the thousands of auto fatalities every year in every country, the risk is accepted because of the benefits of automobile travel.

The legal philosopher Hans Kelsen defined justice as social happiness. But social happiness is an evolving concept and one that varies from one culture to another.

One need only look at how practices in the workplace — holidays, wages, hours per week, maternity leave for mothers and fathers — vary widely from country to country, and yet are regarded as vested rights in each.

Neither the French nor the American Constitution, nor the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, nor the European Convention on Human Rights, includes the right to die with dignity. But then many of the human rights we take for granted today — including non-discrimination and free speech — are far more recent than one might imagine.

One can predict with some confidence that as life expectancy is extended, social mores will evolve and the law will follow.

Anonymous said...

Last week the Supreme Court ruled against keeping comatose patient Terry Schiavo alive through artificial means. This ruling not only puts a stop to Gov. Jeb Bush's attempts to keep in her feeding tube, but it also ends a seven-year battle between Terry's parents and her husband.

Terry's husband, Michael Schiavo, claims his wife did not want to be kept alive by a machine and has been struggling to have her feeding tube removed. Her parents, on the other hand, claim Michael is only interested in the money that he stands to inherit after her death.

Maybe Michael's intentions concerning his wife are not truly honorable. Maybe he is sick of the hospital scene and wants to move on to a woman who is a little more motivated. But even if that is the case, one has to wonder how Terry Schiavo feels about how all of this. Does she want to be a vegetable tied to a machine, with only quarreling relatives and reruns of Becker to occupy her time? Even if a miracle occurred and she came to, she would hardly be able to jump out of bed, not even for an appearance on Oprah.

Anonymous said...

However, because no one knows Terry's true feelings, the battle over her life has escalated into a virtual tug-of-war. On two occasions Terry has had her tube removed, only to have it replaced again when Michael's wishes were appealed.

This woman has been on the brink of death two times, only to have life instilled back in her by legal authorities. Not only is this probably not good for her health, but it is also a cruel form of ironic torture. After all, Terry is in this vegetable state due to an eating disorder and now they are taunting her with the very food she used to hate. If Kirstie Alley was on her deathbed, we wouldn't force apples and celery down her throat, now would we? Of course not. It's all about respect.

This same respect should also tell us that if someone is very ill and hurting, they should be allowed to die. If an adult who is of sound mind and judgment decides that they would rather die gracefully as opposed to live on Jell-O and morphine, this "right to die" should be given to them. People commit suicide everyday, directly and indirectly, and while it may be the wrong thing to do, it is still a basic human right. When all is said and done, there is only one person keeping each of us alive - and that is ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Why do courts therefore feel that they have the right to intervene in the most important decision of someone's life? In Terry's case, it is because she did not leave behind a written directive concerning assisted living. However, when other invalids and cancer patients beg for assisted suicide, people view it as a form of murder. Indeed, Terry's father accused the Supreme Court of committing "judicial homicide."

Logically speaking, it does not make sense that assisted suicide is considered "homicide" but suicide is not. Why is it okay for someone who isn't sick to swallow a bunch of pills if they are healthy, but for it to be a crime if they are sick? Why should the Sylvia Plaths of the world have rights that tormented hospital patients do not?

These patients who seek assisted suicide do not have the selfish reasons that other suicide victims have. In many cases, families of the patient realize that death is the only thing that can bring their loved one peace and resolution. If even they do not want their relative to be forced to live, there should be no opposition from Jeb Bush.

We are forced to do many things in our lifetime. We are forced to work, we are forced to pay taxes, and we are even forced to pretend that Bright Eyes is pure genius. But we should never be forced to live a life of pain and emptiness.

Bridget Sharkey
Yugoslavia

Anonymous said...

We the people of India
Ours is a democracy which means that it is by the people, of the people and for the people. Constitution locates power that resides in the people. It is the people's power for people's benefit. Constitution creates rights and duties. All most all our demands get converted into rights-even our feelings, emotions is governed by the rights and duties we have.

Constitution is a social document. It is the society in its political aspect. We can't understand its nature without understanding the chief characteristics of the society. If the constitution is such that it has taken into its consideration, the social set up, then only will it stand the test of time. constitution and society grows, develops together and gets intertwined in each other. The constitution takes into account change and developments in the society. Instances of them are:-

a) Right to education: below the age of 14yrs has been guaranteed by Article 21-A. recent developments are about guaranteeing education in the technical, higher educational institutions.
b) Right to clean environment
c) Right to life : is widely interpreted to include the right to dignified living-this includes rights guaranteed to prisoners, inmates of protective homes, right to release and rehabilitation of bonded labourers , right to legal aid, and the right to know.
d) Right to go abroad.
e) Right to privacy.
f) Right against solitary confinement.

Anonymous said...

The aforesaid is enough to state that Article 21 has enough of positive content in it. the originating idea in this regard is the view expressed by Field J. in Munn v. Illnois, (1876) 94 US 113, in which it was held that the term 'life' (as appearing in the 5th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution) means something more than 'mere animal existence'. This view was accepted by a Constitution Bench of this Court in Kharak Singh v. State of U.P., MANU/SC/0085/1962 to which further leaves were added in Board of Trustees Port of Bombay v. Dilip Kumar, MANU/SC/0184/1982 Vikram Dev Singh v. State of Bihar, MANU/SC/0572/1988; and Ram Sharan v. Union of India, MANU/SC/0406/1988. In these decisions it was held that the word 'life' in Article 21 means right to live with human dignity and the same does not merely connote continued drudgery. It takes within its fold "some of the finer graces of human civilization, which makes life worth living", and that the expanded concept of life would mean the "tradition, culture and heritage" of the concerned person.

It would be relevant to note the decision in State of Himachal Pradesh v. Umed Ram, MANU/SC/0125/1986. It was observed (here in paragraph 11 that the right to life embraces not only physical existence but the quality of life as understood in its richness and fullness by the ambit of the Constitution; and for residents of hilly areas access to road was held to be access to life itself, and so necessity of road communication in a reasonable condition was held to be a part of constitutional imperatives, because of which the direction given by the Himachal Pradesh High Court to build road in the hilly areas to enable its residents to earn livelihood was upheld. What can be more positive and kicking?

Anonymous said...

We may also refer to the article of Dr. M. Indira and Dr. Alka Dhal under the caption: "Meaning of life, suffering and death" as read in the International Conference on Health Policy, Ethics and Human Values held at New Delhi in 1986. This is what the learned authors stated about life in their article;--

"Life is not mere living but living in health. Health is not the absence of illness but a glowing vitality the feeling of wholeness with a capacity for continuous intellectual and spiritual growth. Physical, social, spiritual and psychological well being are intrinsically inter woven into the fabric of life. According to Indian philosophy that which is born must die. Death is the only certain thing in life."

Going by the above it is clear that this human dignity will be lost if on is left to suffer in old age, crippled and abandoned or in any point in our lives when we are suffering from a incurable disease. If Article 21 can be interpreted as has been done in many cases above, then why can right to die not be included? After all every one has the right to live with dignity. But in India things are not that simple. One has to take into consideration not the interest of a few but that of the 1 billion people whose lives will positively or negatively be affected by such a decision.

To draw out a definite conclusion, one has to analyse the pros and cons of legalizing �right to die�.

Anonymous said...

have the right to die
As we have already seen, no country's Constitution can be an enduring Constitution if it does not take into cognizance the interest of the people for whom this Constitution has been framed. And so there are various arguments given by people who believe that one should have the right to die. Their arguments go as follows:
1. If I have been guaranteed right to life, I should be guaranteed the right to die as well
C A Thomas, 86-year-old retired school teacher of Thrissur, who was the first one in India to demand the right for voluntary death had argued that Article 21 indeed bestowed on every citizen a right to life and method of death. Our Constitution guarantees the right to life. The right to life is incomplete without the right to death. The karma of life is a wheel that is completed only when birth is complemented by death. The right to die is built into the right to live.

Supreme Court in Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab3, said that it is well settled that the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution does not include the right to die. The Court held that Article 21 is a provision guaranteeing protection of life and personal liberty and by no stretch of the imagination can extinction of life be read into it. To give meaning and content to the word 'life' in Article 21, it has been construed as life with human dignity. Any aspect of life which makes it dignified may be read into it but not that which extinguishes it and is, therefore, inconsistent with the continued existence of life resulting in effacing the right itself.

The 'right to life' including the right to live with human dignity would mean the existence of such a right up to the end of natural life. This also includes the right to a dignified life up to the point of death including a dignified procedure of death. In other words, this may include the right of a dying man to also die with dignity when his life is ebbing out. But the 'right to die' with dignity at the end of life is not to be confused or equaled with the 'right to die' an un-natural death curtailing the natural span of life.

It is argued that right to die respects the individual's right to self-determination or his right of privacy. Interference with that right can only be justified if it is to protect essential social values, which is not the case where patients suffering unbearably at the end of their lives request to die when no alternatives exist. Not allowing the right to die would come down to forcing people to suffer against their will, which would be cruel and a negation of their human rights and dignity. Every person has a right to live with at least a minimum dignity and when the state of his existence falls below even that minimum level then he must be allowed to end such tortuous existence

Anonymous said...

At this juncture it would not be out of place to mention that the liberty to die, if not right strictu sensu, may be read as part of the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India. True that the Supreme Court has held that such an interpretation of Article 21 is incorrect18, but it is submitted that one may try to read the freedom to die as flowing from the rights of privacy, autonomy and self-determination, which is what has been done by the Courts of United State and England. The Constitution states certain unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Since we have this right to life, it is our right to decide what we want to do with our lives. And people should be free to live their lives as they themselves think best.

2. If I have been reduced to a corpse, suffering from an incurable, interminable disease, I don't deserve to live with so much pain

3. Our religion supports a person who wants to die
C. Thomas a Christian, quoted the Gita and Ramayana to prove that " vanavas ", the ancient Indian tradition of merging with the Supreme was the most honourable system. "It is the western jurisprudence we now follow without thinking that considers taking one's own life a crime". In his argument he said that Jain preists after reaching a certain age starved themselves to death and the rishis and munis of those times also willfully ended their lives after attaining enlightenment.

4. I fear death and the pain that will come with it, I want to have a sound sleep
C. Thomas believed that death would be a pleasant experience if one were to die at an advanced age on his won volition with some medical help once he or she thought had fulfilled all possible duties of life. Most of the old people today spend their lives fretting about their death and that causes a lot of mental agony and suffering. Guaranteeing a person the right to die would dismiss the fear of death and mourning now prevalent in people.

5. I want to donate my organs before the disease affects it
Venkatesh, a 25-year-old muscular dystrophia patient, wanted to be granted the right to die. He sought to enforce the right so that he could donate organs before they were affected by his illness. The plea was rejected a day before his death by the Andhra Pradesh high court. The court ruled that the petition sought to violate the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1995, which had no provisions that allowed individuals to donate organs before they were brain dead. The court's caution in this case is understandable considering the implications of easing restrictions in organ transplant. However, the order indirectly reiterated the stated legal position that an individual had no right to end his life voluntarily. This is not the only case where someone of their free will wanted to donate their organs, to serve a noble cause and wasn�t allowed to do so. Otherwise in our country illegal trade of human body parts and organs is taking place at a massive rate and when a person approaches law and seeks its help, he is denied the same.

Ria said...

You do not have the right to die; you only have the right to live
1. I do not want to die, I want to live but they won't let me
What stands as the biggest fear in the minds of the people is the exploitation that will occur once right to die is legalized in our country. One example is that many of our age old social customs like sati pratha may get legitimacy once right to die is legalized. In a recent case of Roop Kanwar who performed sati in Rajasthan, there were many local people who supported her and asked everyone to do what she had done so bravely and uphold the Hindu traditions and long followed customs of the village. It can be falsely propagated by Hindu fanatics to serve their purpose saying that a woman has a right to die by throwing herself in the funeral pyre of her husband while the whole while she herself did not consent to it. It is the vast majority of illiterate people who will be targeted. They will be told to give up their lives for their religion and they will do so very gladly saying that they have a right to die, whatever be the reason.

The Sati (Prevention) Bill, which mandates:
1. one to five years imprisonment for any woman who attempts sati;
2. the death penalty or life imprisonment for abetment of Sati;
3. one to seven years imprisonment for glorification of Sati; and
4. Suspension of civic rights of anyone convicted of abetting or
glorifying Sati, i.e. disqualification from holding any public office. However this very piece of legislation will stand negated once right o die is legalized in our country.

2. India is a poor country where there are many feeding mouths and resources are less
In light of the increasing pressure on hospital and medical facilities, it is argued that the same facilities should be used for the benefit of other patients who have a better chance of recovery and to whom the said facilities would be of greater value. Thus, the argument runs, when one has to choose between a patient beyond recovery and one who may be saved, the latter should be preferred as the former will die in any case.

But one should not forget that in a country like India where there is tremendous pressure on the available medical facilities, it is all the more necessary for the maximum utilisation of the limited facilities.

3. There is a risk of abuse of this right
It is again, a conflict between the humane, the ethical and the legal. it is not always that the patient wants to die. The relatives of the patient are also allowed to decide whether to let the patient live. In addition, even where the consent is that of the patient it may be one obtained by force. Use of physical force here is highly unlikely. But emotional and psychological pressures could become overpowering for depressed or dependent people. Moreover, financial considerations, added to the concern about being a burden, could serve as a powerful force that would lead a person to �choose� to die.

Ria said...

It is feared that placing the discretion in the hands of any individual would be placing too much power in his hands and he may misuse such power. This fear stems largely from the fact that the discretionary power is placed in the hands of non-judicial personnel (any individual in this case). This is so because we do not shirk from placing the same kind of power in the hands of a judge (for example, when we give the judge the power to decide whether to award a death sentence or a sentence of imprisonment for life). Generally people who attempt suicide or want to commit are under a lot of emotional stress. For example a patient receiving chemotherapy might want to end his life because of the physical and mental trauma but once he feels better, he might change his mind. Decisions in case of such patients are fluctuate. Also relatives can use the law to achieve their own interests. In India, the crime rate is increasing faster than the population growth. The one main reason behind the crime rate is greed. The old people are very vulnerable.

The near kith and kin want to usurp their property and other possessions. We come across this in almost everyday in news papers. Once euthanasia is legalised, old people will become the main targets. A doctor will declare a patient terminally ill for a paltry some. It will have dangerous repercussions on the society. We should respect life. Life is the most precious thing the God has bestowed upon us.

A youth of our age, depressed to see his parents fight every night, depressed as he does not have a job and has the burden of his family on his shoulders, depressed as he failed in board exams, will not think twice before killing himself! And this will result in gross degradation of a human beings life. His family and society at large will lose an otherwise bodily and mentally healthy person whose rich experience in life and his own skills can be a great asset.

अनु मिश्रा said...

So the outcome as it seems
It seems to me that suicide probably ought to remain illegal, because many people who attempt it (especially young people) are either a) not fully in charge of their faculties, b) treatable patients with one or another form of mental illness, and c) would probably thank us later for resisting their attempt. These aren't strong arguments (it can still be argued that suicide "doesn't hurt anyone but the doer"), but they are good enough for me. The state should do everything it can to discourage people from committing suicide. On the other hand, it shouldn't penalize people who attempt it and fail. If the 'crime' of suicide is punished, you run the risk of the old totalitarian joke: he tried to commit suicide, and failed, so they executed him.

So perhaps suicide should remain generally illegal (but not punishable), and there should just be an exception granted to people who are terminally ill and in excruciating pain (like L. Venkatesh). But doctors often disagree on what defines terminal illness. And while there will certainly be some cases where death is inevitable, there will be many cases where death is fairly far off in the future, and there is some hope, however small. Moreover, critics can object that there is always the possibility of a medical miracle -- that 1 in 10,000 chance that a patient will recover -- so isn't it worth keeping the patient alive in case that happens? Opening up the Right to Die as an exception in the law against suicide would only work if the likelihood of death were overwhelmingly high, and if the "miracle cure" argument were thrown out on a cost/benefit basis.

अनु मिश्रा said...

Thus, it seems like a viable argument to say that the right to die should remain generally illegal because of the confusion that could ensue if it were legalized. This is the status quo, and the suffering of people like Venkatesh is unfortunate, but perhaps justified because it does serve the greater common good.

On the other hand, if I could be convinced that doctors could specify the cases where euthanasia is the best option with upwards of 99% certainty (this would require a classification of terminal illnesses and probably the statistical ascertainment of survivability), then may be legalizing righ to die would also serve the common good.

The basic moral question that arises is whether by legalizing a person's right to die, we will degrade a human beings life and stop respecting human life. No one can deny that there is nothing more precious than the gift of life which every human being enjoys. Why then should man decide when his life should end? Most religious people believe that life is sacred and one should not waste time in planning about their death but planning about how to enjoy life. Terminating life is not an answer to pain. All along life's journey man will suffer pain whether it is physical or mental or emotional or psychological. Will legalization of right to die be done to relieve oneself from the physical pain only?A person weakened by illness may not be in a position to review his decision to kill himself. Decision to die by coming under some financial or social obligation is also very dangerous. Somewhere down the line we may end up violating the right to life while legalizing the right to death.

When life is woe and hope is dumb, the world says go! The grave says , come! Whose voice will you hear? Will you be a faint heart and say that I want the right to die or will you in your sorrow and misery and pain be a brave heart and say, dear god give me two more precious moments because I want to cherish the precious gift of life.

Ritu said...

Most often, the idea of the right to die is related to a person's wish that caregivers allow death—for example, by not providing life support or vital medication—under certain conditions when recovery is highly unlikely or impossible. It may also refer to issues regarding physician-assisted suicide. It may be called passive euthanasia in cases where the patient is unable to make decisions about treatment. Living wills and Do Not Resuscitate orders are legal instruments that make a patient's treatment decisions known ahead of time; allowing a patient to die based on such decisions is not considered to be euthanasia. Usually these patients have also made explicit their wish to receive only palliative care to reduce pain and suffering.

Although specialized legal instruments differ from place to place, there are two more that are important in this context. The Five Wishes document allows a person to state in advance the priorities and values they wish to have honored at the end of life. And the Medical Durable Power of Attorney (or MDPOA) designates an agent to make decisions in case of incapacity, and can be used to give written guidance regarding end of life decision making. The MDPOA is generally considered to be the most powerful of all such instruments. All others may require interpretation on the part of health care providers or even court-appointed guardians; the MDPOA takes the job of interpretation out of the hands of strangers and gives it to a person selected and trusted by the individual

Anonymous said...

The argument for
Forcing individuals to prolong their lives against their wishes may be construed as cruel. Right to die proponents point out that owners of household pets may be charged with a cruelty offence if a terminally ill pet is allowed to suffer without euthanasia.
Arguments against the Right to die principles are based on Judeo-Christian religious beliefs and are thus neither scientific nor universal. Proponents argue that the fervently religious are unfairly restricting the rights of other people who do not share their religious beliefs.

Ritu said...

Euthanasia by consent
Euthanasia may be conducted with consent (voluntary euthanasia) or without consent (involuntary euthanasia). Involuntary euthanasia is conducted where an individual makes a decision for another person incapable of doing so. The decision can be made based on what the incapacitated individual would have wanted, or it could be made on substituted judgment of what the decision maker would want were he or she in the incapacitated person's place, or finally, the decision could be made by assessing objectively whether euthanasia is the most beneficial course of treatment. In any case, euthanasia by proxy consent is highly controversial, especially because multiple proxies may claim the authority to decide for the patient and may or may not have explicit consent from the patient to make that decision.[8]


Euthanasia by means
Euthanasia may be conducted passively, non-actively, and actively. Passive euthanasia entails the withholding of common treatments (such as antibiotics, pain medications, or surgery) or the distribution of a medication (such as morphine) to relieve pain, knowing that it may also result in death (principle of double effect). Passive euthanasia is the most accepted form, and it is a common practice in most hospitals. Non-active euthanasia entails the withdrawing of life support and is more controversial. Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces to kill and is the most controversial means. An individual may use a euthanasia machine to perform euthanasia on himself / herself.

Er. Nidhi Mishra said...

another debatable issue raised by u Avinash... a well written article

Ruchika Mittal said...

surely it depends on lots of things and many we cant imagine also....it needs to be handled with care globally.....no nation can plunge into concluding this issue and making it a law of the nation.

well written article
Regards

Anonymous said...

An overwhelming majority of the public supports laws that give patients the right to decide whether they want to be kept alive through medical treatment. And fully 70% say there are circumstances when patients should be allowed to die, while just 22% believe that doctors and nurses should always do everything possible to save a patient.

Anonymous said...

Public attitudes on these and many other end-of-life issues are unchanged from 1990, despite advances in lifesaving technology, the aging of the population, and the controversy associated with the Terri Schiavo case. Most Americans believe it should be up to individuals ­ not the government or medical professionals ­ to ultimately determine their end-of-life medical decisions.

The Pew Research Center's survey, conducted Nov. 9-27, 2005 among 1,500 adults, finds that while overall attitudes are largely stable, people are increasingly thinking about ­ and planning for ­ their own medical treatment in the event of a terminal illness or incapacitating medical condition. Public awareness of living wills, already widespread in 1990, is now virtually universal, and the number saying they have a living will has more than doubled ­ from just 12% in 1990 to 29% today.

Anonymous said...

People also are much more willing to discuss sensitive end-of-life issues with their loved ones than they were a generation ago. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) of those who are married say they have had a conversation with their husband or wife about their spouse's wishes for end-of-life medical care; only about half reported doing so in 1990 (51%). Among those with living parents, 57% say they have spoken with their mother ­ and 48% with their father ­ about the parent's requests for end-of-life treatment.

There is strong sentiment in favor of letting close family members decide whether to continue medical treatment for a terminally ill loved one who is unable to communicate their own wishes. Roughly three-quarters (74%) say a family member should be permitted to make this decision, which is little changed from 1990 (71%).

Anonymous said...

Though Americans are broadly supportive of allowing patients and their families to decide whether medical treatment should be removed, the public is divided over laws that let doctors prescribe lethal doses of drugs to assist terminally ill patients end their lives. Nearly half (46%) approve of such laws, while about as many (45%) disapprove.

On this issue, Americans are divided along religious and political lines. By two-to-one (61%-30%) white evangelical Protestants oppose physician-assisted suicide laws; by nearly identical margins, white mainline Protestants and seculars approve of such laws. Catholics, on balance, oppose such laws (by 50%-40%).

Dr. Gunjan Gehlot said...

Views on assisted suicide are also affected by the amount of thought given to end-of-life issues; 57% of those who have given a great deal of thought to these issues approve of legal assisted suicide, a view shared by only 35% of those who have given little or no thought to these matters.

Dr. Gunjan Gehlot said...

The Democratic Party holds a modest advantage over the GOP as the party seen as better able to handle end-of-life issues. Roughly a third (34%) say the Democrats could do a better job in these matters, compared with 22% who favor the Republicans. Many see neither party as particularly good on the issue (16%) and about a quarter (26%) say they don't know which party could do a better job.

Dr. Gunjan Gehlot said...

Predictably, there is a strong partisan component to opinion on this issue, with Republicans favoring the GOP and Democrats favoring the Democratic Party. Independents who choose a side favor Democrats over Republicans (by 27% to 14%), and self-described moderates give the Democrats an even bigger advantage (40% for the Democrats, 16% for the Republicans).

Support for Allowing Patients to Die

The vast majority of Americans ­70% ­ say that there are sometimes circumstances in which a patient should be allowed to die; only 22% believe that doctors and nurses should always do everything possible to save the life of a patient. The number of people who think there are times when medical treatment should be ended has changed little since 1990, though the percentage believing that all possible efforts should be made has grown modestly during the period (from 15% in 1990).

Only among African Americans does a majority (51%) think doctors and nurses should always do everything possible to save a patient (40% disagree). In addition, 35% of those ages 18-29 say everything should be done to keep a patient alive; no more than one-in-five in any other age category agrees.

Anonymous said...

More See Doctors as Responsive

A growing number of people believe that doctors and nurses are paying a lot of attention to instructions from patients about whether or not to keep them alive. Three-in-ten think that doctors are paying a lot of attention to patients' end-of-life wishes, up from 20% in 1990. Overall, nearly seven-in-ten (68%) believe that doctors are paying a lot or some attention to the life-sustaining treatment requests of patients.

People who have played a role in determining the end-of-life treatment of a family member or loved one are more likely than others to believe that doctors and nurses pay close attention to patients' wishes: 41% say they pay a lot of attention, and 34% say they pay at least some attention. Better educated people are also more likely to think doctors and nursers are paying close attention. Four-in-ten college graduates think doctors are paying a lot of attention to patients about whether or not they want treatment to keep them alive. This is up 16% since 1990 when 24% of college graduates felt this way, the largest increase among any demographic group.

Dr. Palki Vajpayee said...

Attitudes on this question are also strongly related to the respondent's religious beliefs, as well as to party and ideology. Fewer than half of white evangelical Protestants (42%) believe that an individual suffering a great deal of pain with no hope of improvement has a moral right to end their life, compared with 73% of white mainline Protestants. Most Catholics (60%) support the moral right to suicide under these circumstances, as do an overwhelming majority of seculars (78%). Similarly wide disparities are seen in terms of church attendance, with frequent attenders less supportive of such a right.

There are wide differences between Republicans and Democrats on this question as well. Fully 83% of liberal Democrats think people have a moral right to end their own lives under these circumstances, while just 41% of conservative Republicans agree. Moderate and liberal Republicans (63%) and conservative and moderate Democrats (62%) fall in between.

Anonymous said...

Severely Handicapped Infants

Compared with 15 years ago, more people say that infants born with severe handicaps ­ no matter how severe ­ should receive as much medical treatment as possible. Overall, 60% feel this way, up from 52% in 1990. Just 28% believe that parents have the right to refuse treatment that might save the infant's life, down from 32% in 1990. African Americans (84%) and younger respondents (70%) are more likely than others to favor providing as much treatment as possible.

Only about half of college graduates (48%) support making every effort medically to save a severely handicapped infant ­ though that is still larger than the percentage saying parents should have the right to refuse treatment (36%).

Support for providing the most treatment possible increases to 65% among people with only a high school diploma and to 73% among those who did not finish high school.

Anonymous said...

Catholic Priests Raise End-of-Life Issues

Overall, a third of regular churchgoers say that the clergy at their place of worship speak out on end-of-life issues. Roughly half of regular churchgoers say their clergy speak out on abortion (52%) and Iraq (50%). However, only about quarter (27%) say their clergy address the death penalty.

Catholic clergy stand out in their attention to end-of-life issues; half of Catholics who attend church at least monthly say that their clergy speak out on these matters, compared with 28% of evangelical Protestants and 16% of mainline Protestants.

More Catholics than Protestants also report hearing about abortion (71%) and the death penalty (35%) from their clergy.

Anonymous said...

Abortion, Death Penalty and End-of-Life Issues


Relatively few Americans subscribe to what may be termed as a consistent "ethic of life" ­ opposing both abortion and the death penalty, and favoring the use of all medical means to keep terminally ill patients alive. Abortion opponents and death penalty opponents alike overwhelmingly believe that there are circumstances in which doctors and nurses should let a patient die.

Anonymous said...

However, abortion opponents stand out for their overwhelming rejection of both physician-assisted suicide and a moral right to end life under extreme circumstances. Two-thirds (66%) of those who oppose abortion in all cases, or make exceptions only for rape, incest, or to save the woman's life disapprove of legalizing physician-assisted suicide. That compares with 23% of those who believe abortion should be generally available or available under stricter limits. The gap is between these groups is nearly as large in opinions about whether people who are suffering great pain with no hope of improvement have a moral right to end their life.

Attitudes toward the death penalty bear less relationship to views about end-of-life issues. For example, just over half (53%) of death penalty supporters approve of legalizing physician-assisted suicide, compared with 40% of death penalty opponents. Differences on other questions are of similar magnitude.

Death penalty opponents and abortion opponents share common ground ­ and differ with those on the opposite side of both issues ­ in their personal views of when to halt end-of-life medical treatment. Both groups are fairly evenly divided over whether all medical steps should be taken to save their lives, or whether treatment should be halted. By contrast, solid majorities of those who support the death penalty, and those who believe abortion should be generally available, say they would want medical treatment halted if they had a disease with great pain and no hope of improvement.

Anonymous said...

A woman with multiple sclerosis has won permission to bring a High Court challenge to clarify the law on assisted suicide.

Debbie Purdy, 45, from Bradford, is considering travelling to a country where assisted suicide is legal.

But she is worried her husband, Omar Puente, could be arrested on his return from Belgium or Zurich, Switzerland.

Her lawyers argued the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) acted illegally by not providing guidance

Dr. Palki Vajpayee said...

The DPP resisted the application.

Sir Ken Macdonald, the director, has stated that there is no policy on assisted suicide, and it would be beyond his powers to grant immunity from prosecution.

But Lord Justice Latham, sitting with Mr Justice Nelson at London's High Court, ruled that "without wishing to give Ms Purdy any optimism that her arguments will ultimately succeed", she did have an arguable case which should go to a full hearing

Dr. Palki Vajpayee said...

'Important step'

Mrs Purdy's case is being supported by the organisation Dignity in Dying, which wants assisted suicide to be legal in Britain.

Sarah Wootton, the chief executive, said: "This is an important step forward for Debbie Purdy and others like her.

"If the DPP issues a policy on the law, Debbie may be able to live longer, knowing that if her suffering becomes too much to bear, she has the option of having an assisted death, with her husband by her side."

Dr Peter Saunders, of Care Not Killing, which is opposed to assisted suicide, said: "The High Court Judges have simply granted permission for Debbie Purdy to have a full hearing in court but have made it very clear that they are not giving her any grounds for optimism that her arguments will succeed.

"We welcome this opportunity to revisit the arguments and are confident that the court will find that, in order to protect vulnerable people from exploitation, the current law should be upheld."

In 2001 Diane Pretty, who had motor neurone disease, failed to get immunity from prosecution for her husband if he helped her to die in the UK.

Several attempts to legalise assisted suicide in Britain have been rejected.

The most recent, in 2006, was defeated in the House of Lords by 148 votes to 100.

Puja said...

So let me reframe the question. Like many people, I've always vaguely supported the right to die, but why? Mainly on the principle that Individual Rights trumps the state's interest in keeping you alive against your wishes -- for the Greater Common Good. But the Individual Rights argument, euthanasia is the same as suicide; really what is championed is the legalization of suicide. (Which many liberals and libertarians do support)

And on that subject, I'm not so sure. It seems to me that suicide probably ought to remain illegal, because many people who attempt it (especially young people) are either a) not fully in charge of their faculties, b) treatable patients with one or another form of mental illness, and c) would probably thank us later for resisting their attempt. These aren't strong arguments (it can still be argued that suicide "doesn't hurt anyone but the doer"), but they are good enough for me. The state should do everything it can to discourage people from committing suicide. On the other hand, it shouldn't penalize people who attempt it and fail. If the 'crime' of suicide is punished, you run the risk of the old totalitarian joke: he tried to commit suicide, and failed, so they executed him

Puja said...

It's my life
It's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while
I'm alive

Ashok said...

IN INDIA:-

After a brief, one-sided debate, Indian Parliament on December 15, 1987 passed the Sati (Prevention) Bill, which mandates:

one to five years imprisonment for any woman who attempts sati;
the death penalty or life imprisonment for “abetment of Sati”;
one to seven years imprisonment for “glorification of Sati”; and
suspension of civic rights of anyone convicted of “abetting or glorifying Sati”, i.e. disqualification from holding any public office.
Most disturbing of all, the bill contains a “special provision” so that the burden of proof is shifted from the accusers to the person accused.

In other words, those people who are merely accused under the new bill will be considered guilty until they can successfully prove themselves innocent.

The authorities here have had to drop charges and release all those held in association with Roop Kanwar’s Ball, since it was observed by India’s Supreme Court that they had been held under laws that had been passed only after the incident occurred. Perhaps there is yet hope for truly democratic institutions in India. But few are daring to speak out.

Trust in majority rule is the foundation-stone of democracy. It is precisely for such democratic ideals that millions of young people the world over, including women, have willingly laid down their lives, all to the great respect of the societies that they died defending. We Americans of the post-Vietnam era tend to forget this sometimes.

Motivated by an earnest desire to ‘keep up’ with the rest of the world, especially the governments of the elect in the so-called ‘Third World’ often end up throwing out the baby with the bath water in their drive to modernize. In the process, age-old cultural treasures are lost, including the very ideals that gave the society its cultural identity.

Ashok said...

In a certain sense, even the highly-educated of India personally view America as a kind of rich and powerful heaven-on-earth, while publicly they scorn her. What things have we done to deserve such esteem?

Perhaps there is something for India to learn from the examples of Holland and California. And perhaps we Americana would do well to learn from Roop Kanwar’s example of living idealism. Our own integrity as a nation, and India’s as veil, could lie in the balance.

Anonymous said...

Ten years after Oregonians passed a controversial ballot measure allowing physicians to help some patients take their own lives, the records show that what critics feared has apparently not happened. No rush to end one's life, no people flocking here from other states, no pressure from family, doctors, and insurance companies to commit suicide.

Relatively few people opt to end their own lives by taking a doctor-prescribed drug, according to recently-released figures for 2006: 46 deaths last year, 292 overall since the law went into effect – about one-tenth of 1 percent of those diagnosed with terminal illnesses in Oregon.

Instead, palliative and hospice care have increased markedly here because the law helped raise awareness about caring for terminally ill patients. As a result, Oregon ranks among the best in the nation in end-of-life care. This means more people are looked after at home with the emotional and spiritual support of their families rather than spending their last days in a hospital.

"The practice has settled into a nice, safe, responsible, conservative record of aid-in-dying practice in the state," says Barbara Combs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, a Denver-based advocacy group that supports physician-assisted suicide. "Once again, very, very few Oregonians have exercised their option under the law

Anonymous said...

When the law permits killing as a medical treatment, society's moral guidelines are blurred, and killing could gain acceptance as a solution for the chronically ill or vulnerable Doctor-assisted suicide could actually create a financial incentive for insurance companies to encourage prematurely ending the lives of those in need of long-term care."

Anonymous said...

There's no question that this topic stirs a lot emotion and a lot of debate

Ashok said...

California Compassionate Choices Act" last month. "I think when you pare it down to its essence, however, this is about how people are going to live the last days of their life."

Anonymous said...

agree with your line of thinking with regard to moving on with life in a different and blank slate.

While certain people have the in-built ability to provide other options to preserve life, in this particular instance, I see the background and cultural upbringing as factors that may have contributed to not only him taking his own life, but the entire family.
In my opinion

Anonymous said...

I hope that someone would give a shot to what u said, life should never be focused to a certain point, we shld diversify our minds and see life beyond certain limits. thanks a lot\

Rose Ng'ang'a
Nairobi, Kenya

Austeen Sufi said...

Abstract:
The legality of suicide has radically gained in significance in recent years. Changing attitudes towards suicide, and the legal legitimacy they have received, exemplify how legal systems have sought to reconcile traditional legal paradigms with changing values. This is especially true of nations that have only recently gained independence. Most such nations continue to rely on laws and legal systems born of their colonial past. Some, and India is a case in point, are presently striving to move beyond their colonial underpinnings. How such systems interpret the right to die provide us with unparalleled insights into this process. This is because colonial legal paradigms treated suicide as immoral or sinful. Consequently, any recognition given to the right to die is necessarily in counterpoint to colonial doctrines. This article examines how Indian courts have construed this right to die. It focuses on the strategies adopted in the course of this construction, as well as its larger consequences.

Shalini Chopra said...

Medical science has now acquired life supporting systems and medications to extend life artificially for long periods even after the loss of brain activities and the control of bodily functions. Many people have a fear today that they will be kept alive artificially in this manner, with consequent sufferings and distress to them and members of their family. The decision to reject such artificial treatment should be of the patient alone and no one else. This decision of the patient constitutes the act of ''euthanasia''. While once commonly understood as "mercy killing," the term "euthanasia" now encompasses acts from lethal injection, to "assisting" in suicide, to withholding basic levels of care from non-terminal patients. In all cases of euthanasia, the action or omission is expressly intended to cause the death of a person.

Traditionally persons suffering from a terminal illness were allowed to die naturally. Under this centuries-old ethic, patients are not obligated to use extraordinary or heroic medical treatment that would only prolong the dying process. Ordinary care and treatment should be provided to all patients to sustain their daily needs and comfort. When a person has clearly reached their "last days," the focus of medical treatment may be switched from curing to caring.

Richa Saxena said...

In the case of Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide, the countries that advocate ''mercy killing'' are Holland, Northern Provinces of Australia and also some states in the United States of America. The Netherlands has become the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia. The bill allows doctors to kill patients with terminal diseases who are suffering "unbearably" if they request it.

''Right to death'' is different from euthanasia. Euthanasia means ''a good and peaceful death''. Patients who are terminally ill; ''terminal'' as defined by medical experts means a disease that cannot be cured or has no remedy, the final remedy being death; should be permitted to access the relief granted by euthanasia. A practicing consultant who is an expert in that particular field of illness must confirm the terminal illness of the patient.

Richa Saxena said...

Euthanasia is like a ''will'' made by a person when he is hale and hearty just the way in which he makes one regarding property and inheritance. Any person who is competent enough, as declared by the law, should be allowed to make a will, in front of two witnesses, stating his desire to die in case of terminal illness and that decision of his can be revoked by him at his own will at any given time in the future. It should not be binding on him that he has to exercise his right to die in case of a terminal illness. He should be left open with an option of revoking such a decision at any given point in the future. One should be given the choice to decide the time and place of his death.

The medical profession holds that, the life of a patient has to be saved. But in cases of terminal illness the medical professionals do not prolong the life of a person; instead they prolong the death of that person. One cannot say that since the Constitution of India says that Article 21 is the right to life of an individual he must be kept alive through all the sufferings that he has to undergo throughout the period till death releases him from his ordeal. Sufferings can be physical, mental as well as monetary. Euthanasia can be considered to be a solution to get rid of such sufferings.

Tulip Banerjee said...

Under the active form of euthanasia giving patient a lethal injection after his consent can eliminate the sufferings. Under passive euthanasia, the doctor plays a passive role, and can be granted with immunity against criminal proceedings. Hence this cannot be termed as a ''physician assisted suicide''.

The issues involved under euthanasia are:

Whether there can be a misuse of the practice- wherein property matters and inheritance come to light and this can be a hindrance to the spirit of euthanasia.
Life is precious- the ethical principles of life are involved.
In case of minors or mentally retarded persons, the will of the parents can be taken into account. The earlier mentioned procedure for consent will remain constant. In the Jain religion, there is provision that considers euthanasia as legal and it is called as Santhara.

As the law now stands, physicians and surgeons who wish, in the interest of compassion and humanity to respond to the patient''s wishes in a suitable case, are inhibited from acting in accordance with their conscience by the fear that they might be breaking the law of the land of which they are loyal citizens. It is also possible that a doctor in such a predicament may be exposed to blackmail. It is therefore necessary that doctors who act with care and humanity be protected from prosecution and persecution

Anouska Awasthi said...

The Indian Constitution says that the ''Right to Die'' is not a fundamental right under Article 21. The question whether the right to die is included in Article 21 of Constitution came for consideration for the first time before the Bombay High Court in The State of Maharashtra v. Maruti Shripathi Dubal case [(1987) Cr LJ 549]. The Court held that the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 includes the right to die, and consequently the Court struck down Section 309 IPC, which provides punishment for attempt to commit suicide as unconstitutional. The judges felt that the desire to die is not unnatural but merely abnormal and uncommon. They listed several circumstances in which people may wish to end their lives, including disease, cruel or unbearable condition of life, and a sense of shame or disenchantment with life. They held that everyone should have the freedom to dispose of his life as and when he desires. The Supreme Court in P. Rathinam v. Union Of India [(1994) 3 SCC 394], upheld the Bombay High Court''s decision but the same Court in Gian Kour v. State of Punjab [(1996) 2 SCC 648], a five judge Constitution Bench of the Court overruled the P. Rathinam''s case and, held that ''Right to Life'' under Article 21 of the constitution does not include ''Right to Die'' or ''Right to be Killed.'' The Right to Die is inherently inconsistent as is death with life.

Anouska Awasthi said...

The Court held that the Right to Life is a natural right embodied in Article 21, but suicide is an unnatural termination or extinction of life and, incompatible and inconsistent with the concept of Right to Life. Referring to protagonists of euthanasia''s view that existence in persistent vegetative state was not a benefit to the patient of terminal illness being unrelated to ''Principle of Sanctity of Life'' or the ''Right to Live with Dignity''. The Court said that this argument was of no assistance to determine the scope of Article 21 of the Constitution for deciding whether the guarantee of ''Right to Life'' therein includes the ''Right to Die.''


The court made it clear that the ''Right to Life'' including the right to live with human dignity would mean the existence of such a right up to the end of natural life. This also includes the right to a dignified life up to the point of death including a dignified procedure of death. This may include the right of a dying man to also die with dignity when his life is ebbing out. But the ''Right to Die'', with dignity at the end of life is not to be confused with the ''Right to Die'' an unnatural death curtailing the natural span of life. The Court reiterated that the argument to support the views of permitting the termination of life in such cases (dying man who is terminally ill or in vegetative state) by accelerating the process of natural death when it was certain and imminent was not available to interpret article 21 to include therein the right to curtail the natural span of life.

Rohit Sharma said...

Euthanasia can never be implemented in a country where there is a clash of ideologies. There has been a lot of debate over this topic over the past few decades. The right to life of an individual is certainly the most fundamental right, yet in extreme cases it should not be binding on the individual to exercise that right in cases of agony. Suicide should not be confused with euthanasia since the former is a narrower term in respect with euthanasia. In Greek, euthanasia means a ''good death''. This policy of good death has been implemented in the Netherlands. Other countries will have to decide for themselves, but surely the Dutch style of open policy towards such a painful and difficult topic is the best way to do so.

Dr.Ruchika Rastogi said...

its surely a debatable issue a lots of things needs to be taken into consideratio b4 Euthanasia is made law...there are several pros & cons

Article was well written and cooments are also very informative

Regards

Jyoti Dixit said...

Have the courage to live. Anyone can die.

Its very complicated issue, imposing Eunthesia as a rule by ant state of world. It was well written and throghly examined. some comments are also eye openor, its good have informed reader.

Regards

Jyoti Dixit said...

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.

R. Ramesh said...

my vote is in favour of mercy killing..to see some of them suffering is inhuman...

Ria Taneja said...

Reasons given for voluntary euthanasia:

Choice: Proponents of VE emphasize that choice is a fundamental principle for liberal democracies and free market systems.

Quality of Life: The pain and suffering a person feels during a disease, even with pain relievers, can be incomprehensible to a person who has not gone through it. Even without considering the physical pain, it is often difficult for patients to overcome the emotional pain of losing their independence.

Economic costs and human resources: Today in many countries there is a shortage of hospital space. The energy of doctors and hospital beds could be used for people whose lives could be saved instead of continuing the life of those who want to die which increases the general quality of care and shortens hospital waiting lists. It is a burden to keep people alive past the point they can contribute to society, especially if the resources used could be spent on a curable ailment

Ria Taneja said...

Reasons given against voluntary euthanasia:
Professional role: Critics argue that voluntary euthanasia could unduly compromise the professional roles of health care employees, especially doctors. They point out that European physicians of previous centuries traditionally swore some variation of the Hippocratic Oath, which in its ancient form excluded euthanasia: "To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death.." However, since the 1970s, this oath has largely fallen out of use.

Moral: Some people consider euthanasia of some or all types to be morally unacceptable.

This view usually treats euthanasia to be a type of murder and voluntary euthanasia as a type of suicide, the morality of which is the subject of active debate.
Theological: Voluntary euthanasia has often been rejected as a violation of the sanctity of human life.

Specifically, some Christians argue that human life ultimately belongs to God, so that humans should not be the ones to make the choice to end life. Orthodox Judaism takes basically the same approach, however, it is more open minded, and does, given certain circumstances, allow for euthanasia to be exercised under passive or non-aggressive means. Accordingly, some theologians and other religious thinkers consider voluntary euthanasia (and suicide generally) as sinful acts, i.e. unjustified killings.

Feasibility of implementation: Euthanasia can only be considered "voluntary" if a patient is mentally competent to make the decision, i.e., has a rational understanding of options and consequences. Competence can be difficult to determine or even define.

Necessity: If there is some reason to believe the cause of a patient's illness or suffering is or will soon be curable, the correct action is sometimes considered to attempt to bring about a cure or engage in palliative care.

Wishes of Family: Family members often desire to spend as much time with their loved ones as possible before they die.

Consent under pressure: Given the economic grounds for voluntary euthanasia (VE), critics of VE are concerned that patients may experience psychological pressure to consent to voluntary euthanasia rather than be a financial burden on their families.

Even where health costs are mostly covered by public money, as in various European countries, VE critics are concerned that hospital personnel would have an economic incentive to advise or pressure people toward euthanasia consent.

Kanupriya said...

During the 20th Century, efforts to change government policies on euthanasia have met limited success in Western countries. Country policies are described here in alphabetical order, followed by the exceptional case of The Netherlands. Euthanasia policies have also been developed by a variety of NGOs, most notably medical associations and advocacy organizations

Prachi Pandey said...

right to death has so many pros and cons & these will vary from one nation to another. I dont entirely support it but yes like the Italian case, i think mercy killing should be given with first pririty to person & its family.

But again so many things needs to be taken into a/c and many things like u mentioned all the obstacles, has to be minutely analysed.

Well written yet again.

Keep Posting.

Abraham Lincoln said...

I don't really know what to say, but I never saw a preacher preach anybody into Hell and that is the problem I have with preachers. People live and die just as trees dies. I think when it is time to die one should die. When it is time to try and save the tree by pruning out some of the dead or diseased wood, I think that is OK too.

When doctors keep a patient alive for 17 years I think something is wrong with the medical system. I really think they need the money to make house payments or something and do not have the best interests of the patient at heart.

Priya Talwar said...

It is argued that right to die respects the individual's right to self-determination or his right of privacy. Interference with that right can only be justified if it is to protect essential social values, which is not the case where patients suffering unbearably at the end of their lives request to die when no alternatives exist

Shilpi Verma said...

If it was a family member, such as one of my parents, I would ask them what they wanted at the beginning of the disease. If that was impossible, I would discuss the issue with my siblings and the other parent to make sure that there were not going to be any legal consequences that hadn't been worked out. Caring for someone with Alzheimer's Disease is extremely exhausting both physically and mentally. Nursing homes can be expensive, and in some instances all the money is spent on the ill person, leaving little or nothing for the remaining family members to live on.

Shailly Chandra said...

I always believed that life and death is not in our hand, but after listening in news and reading your article here now i believe that instead of living like dead for 17yrs its better to think of Eunthesia.

well written

Jyoti Dixit said...

highly bebatable & fragile issue, any nation needs to consider it at micro & macro level befre jumping into any sort of conclusion

Ritu said...

Euthanasia can only be considered "voluntary" if a patient is mentally competent to make the decision, i.e., has a rational understanding of options and consequences. Competence can be difficult to determine or even define.

Necessity: If there is some reason to believe the cause of a patient's illness or suffering is or will soon be curable, the correct action is sometimes considered to attempt to bring about a cure or engage in palliative care.

Trisha Pandey said...

Those hoping for ethical consensus in this area will take heart from the growth the survey found in Americans' readiness to discuss end-of-life questions.

Preeti said...

Euthanasia may be conducted with consent (voluntary euthanasia) or without consent (involuntary euthanasia). Involuntary euthanasia is conducted where an individual makes a decision for another person incapable of doing so.

Shalini said...

This is because colonial legal paradigms treated suicide as immoral or sinful. Consequently, any recognition given to the right to die is necessarily in counterpoint to colonial doctrines. This article examines how Indian courts have construed this right to die. It focuses on the strategies adopted in the course of this construction, as well as its larger consequences.

Shilpi said...

The medical profession holds that, the life of a patient has to be saved. But in cases of terminal illness the medical professionals do not prolong the life of a person; instead they prolong the death of that person. One cannot say that since the Constitution of India says that Article 21 is the right to life of an individual he must be kept alive through all the sufferings that he has to undergo throughout the period till death releases him from his ordeal. Sufferings can be physical, mental as well as monetary. Euthanasia can be considered to be a solution to get rid of such sufferings.

David O. Brink said...

Suicide itself is not a crime, nor is aiding a suicide, provided it does not cross the line into euthanasia, or mercy killing.
But many do not want Germany to follow the example of Switzerland, where liberal laws on euthanasia have led to a bustling trade in assisted suicide.
In the last decade, nearly 500 Germans have crossed the border to end their lives with the help of a Swiss group that facilitates suici

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