Euthanasia is the act of deliberately ending a person’s life to relieve suffering. Imagine a person has an incurable condition. He is enduring pain every second. There is no way he can be cured. The only possible way to relieve them from the pain is death. There comes Euthanasia.
In many cases, it is carried out at the person’s request but there are times when they may be too ill and the decision is made by relatives, medics or, in some instances, the courts. The term is derived from the Greek word euthanatos which means easy death.
Euthanasia can be carried out either by taking actions, including giving a lethal injection, or by not doing what is necessary to keep a person alive.
Assisted suicide is the act of deliberately assisting or encouraging another person to kill themselves.
Types of euthanasia
Euthanasia can be classified in different ways, including:
- Active euthanasia – where a person deliberately intervenes to end someone’s life – for example, by injecting them with a large dose of sedatives.
- Passive euthanasia – where a person causes death by withholding or withdrawing treatment that is necessary to maintain life, such as withholding antibiotics from someone with pneumonia.
Euthanasia can also be classified as:
- Voluntary euthanasia – where a person makes a conscious decision to die and asks for help to do this.
- Non-voluntary euthanasia – where a person is unable to give their consent (for example, because they are in a coma or are severely brain damaged) and another person takes the decision on their behalf, often because the ill person previously expressed a wish for their life to be ended in such circumstances.
- involuntary euthanasia – where a person is killed against their expressed wishes.
Why people want Euthanasia?
Most people think unbearable pain is the main reason people seek euthanasia.
Terminally ill people can have their quality of life severely damaged by physical conditions such as incontinence, nausea and vomiting, breathlessness, paralysis and difficulty in swallowing.
Psychological factors that cause people to think of euthanasia include depression, fearing loss of control or dignity, feeling a burden, or dislike of being dependent.
Is it Legal?
Active euthanasia is currently only legal in Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. Under the laws in these countries, a person’s life can be deliberately ended by their doctor or other healthcare professional. The person is usually given an overdose of muscle relaxants or sedatives. This causes a coma and then death.
In some countries the law is less clear, with some forms of assisted suicide and passive euthanasia legal, but active euthanasia illegal. For example, some types of assisted suicide and passive euthanasia are legal in Switzerland, Germany, Mexico and five American states.
What about India?
On march 2011, The Supreme Court allowed “passive” euthanasia under “exceptional circumstances”.“Passive euthanasia” is usually defined as withdrawing medical treatment with the deliberate intention of causing the patient’s death.
Did You Know???
- A 24 July 1939 killing of a severely disabled infant in Nazi Germany was described in a BBC “Genocide Under the Nazis Timeline” as the first “state-sponsored euthanasia”.
- The “euthanasia campaign” of mass murder gathered momentum on 14 January 1940 when the “handicapped” were killed with gas vans and killing centres, eventually leading to the deaths of 70,000 adult Germans.
Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug, was an Indian nurse who was at the centre of attention in a court case on euthanasia after spending 42 years in a vegetative state as a result of sexual assault. Shanbaug died from pneumonia on 18 May 2015 after being in a persistent vegetative state for nearly 42 years.
Read this article – Aruna Shanbaug