Euthanasia

A deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering.

Euthanasia or as it is more commonly known as Mercy Killing.

Euthanasia has come alive suddenly when the Apex Court has rejected the plea of a writer, Pinki Virani, to grant mercy killing to Aruna Shanbaug.

Aruna Shanbaug, a 61 year old former nurse who cannot even participate in the debate going over euthanasia because she is lying in a hospital, with her brain as dead as the bodies lying in the mortuary of the same hospital.

Leaving Aruna Shanbaug here for a moment I would like to throw some light on euthanasia. There are 4 categories in which we can put this concept.

Voluntary euthanasia: in which one asks for death if he feels his illness is not curable.

Involuntary euthanasia: In this category someone else decides for euthanasia on behalf of the patient because the patient may not be in the state to decide.

Passive euthanasia: it is called so because in such cases doctors discontinue the life support system.

Active euthanasia: In this type medical assistant inject lethal substance in patient’s body.

Let’s come back to Aruna Shanbaug who is waiting and do not even know that she is waiting. Waiting for justice ??? No !!! She got the bookmarked-justice when her assaulter got a jail term for 6 years for attempt to murder and robbery, only.

No she is not waiting for justice. My friends, she is waiting for something nobody waits for. A dignified and peaceful end of her 36 years long agony.




You coin the term Mercy Killing… and immediately world divides into 2 groups and hit the road in protest of each other. Showing placards for it, writing volumes against it and giving their own view of right and wrong.. life and death.. crime and sin..

When we talk about crime and sin, we know there are some actions which are restricted by law and hence they are crime. The ones which are restricted by religion are sins.
However there are cases, like the case of Aruna Shanbaug, where the line dividing the two goes blur.

I do not want to provide partial information to make a biased environment. So I will try to question both of the ideologies. 1st the mindset of the people who appose euthanasia.

The argument given by the people, who oppose mercy killing, is that, we are not god and we have no right to take anyone’s life. Aruna is a victim of an unfortunate event and thus we, as a society, have a greater responsibility towards caring her. We should not count the years but have a bigger picture of value of life. If we legalize it, we may set an example which can later be abused in the country like India where rules and laws can be flouted and manipulated.
The point is how we can define the quality of life. There are millions of people in this world who are differently able and have a right to live with dignity and freedom. Tomorrow a rowdy may rob and kill a visually disabled person and if caught, can escape with an excuse of mercy killing. Or a son may send his parents to the gates of heaven just to avoid the burden of taking care of them.

Even in the rarest case, as of Aruna’s, if you can argue that she cannot even appreciate the care society is showing to her, let us remind you that there is something above the physical existence of brain and that is the soul. Just think of how disgusted her soul will feel when she will see that the same society who gave her those scars is today running away from her. Therefore we must not forget that the existence of the human race on this planet is a result of 2 postulates: a. Staying Together and b. Protecting the weak.

After reading this do you feel that the argument was correct and the society should continue taking care of people like Aruna Shanbaug ???

If you answer is yes, that means you feel that she should continue living like a specimen for medical examples.
The other group asked us to respect the value of life. Can we call this a life?
Aruna Shanbaug simply exists. She doesn’t live.

Her case cannot be simply compared with any other case of sick or disabled person.
She is not on life support system. Her lungs and heart are working fine. But she is brain dead. She cannot feel anything. She cannot feel hunger. Even if the hospital staff simply stops feeding her, she will leave this world without a single pulse of pain reaching her mind.

Doctors say that there is no hope for her recovery. And even if someday a spark happens in her dead brain and she comes to life, what she will confront with ??? The traumatizing memories of the brutal assault ?? The realization that she spent 36 years like a artifact in a museum ???

Sometime back we discussed the trauma; her soul will go through when we will not care for her anymore. But isn’t it more practical to think about her body which is physically present in front of us? After the death we cremate the body with so much respect. Shouldn’t we show some respect to her body which is being kept alive artificially?

Even if we assume that there is a medically denied concept of soul, I want to say today – Her soul must be crying to get out of this world and go to heaven where it should have gone long ago. I must say that in this case, it would be a real mercy on her to either let her die without food or she should be given active euthanasia.

So that was my reply to the moral and ethical conflicts involved here.

Let me touch upon some legal aspect here. We generally forget that processes are for people and not the other way round. We are simply struggling to come out of the illusion of a process which says ending any life is a criminal offense.
After defining a super set called Life, we defined subsets and called one of them as Murder. But ending a life is justified in some cases. So to allow those cases, we defined one more subset and put a list of acceptable forms of murder in that. For example, war and death sentences.

Ending a life is a crime or not is clearly defined and documented in cases of war and death sentences. Shooting at enemy in a war is not crime. But killing innocent people during a war is a war crime. Penal courts granting death sentence to someone is not a crime but sentences granted by naxalites comes under offence.
Whatever can be used can be abused also. A surgeon can use a knife for saving a life as well as taking a life.

Friends I am not saying here that anybody who comes and says I am terminally ill, I want a peaceful exit, should be granted. We must have proper safeguards. There can be laws which enable people to write some kind of a will that if something incurable happens to them and they are not able to take the decisions, some assigned person should take such decision on their behalf. Laws can be strengthened to protect people from being abused by euthanasia.


The essence of my argument is, if we can brainstorm and standardize few forms of ending a life like sentences and war, why can’t we pen down some clauses for the rarest of rare case of Aruna Shanbaug and give her an opportunity to leave this world. It’s high time, that Indian Penal Court should be upgraded for the inclusion of new laws considering Euthanasia a rare-legal practice.

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