Sunday, February 26, 2012


Last night while preparing for my civil services examination I stumbled upon the case of Aruna Shanbaug.On 7th march,2011 the Supreme Court had turned down her plea of euthanasia while opening a window for passive euthanasia in future.This has put the society at quandary.Soon my young,rational mind was at war with itself- SHOULD WE HAVE A RIGHT TO DIE?Or nature alone has the right to decide it?The eerie silence of the sleepy hostel and the pleasant Chennai breeze did little to calm me down.
                 EUTHANASIA is defined as the voluntary intervention undertaken to end the life of a terminally ill person to reduce his sufferings and give him a peaceful death.Euthanasia itself  is of 2 types- Active ;where some lethal medicine is used by the physician to end the life of the patient and Passive;where the life support system of a hopeless patient is withdrawn.I thought by myself ;on what grounds can we justify a doctor killing his own patient even with a noble objective?The Hippocrates Law states that-TO PLEASE NO ONE SHALL I PRESCRIBE A LETHAL DRUG NOR GIVE ADVISE WHICH MAY CAUSE HIS DEATH.Indeed isn’t taking other’s life in any circumstances a heinous crime ?In an instant my alter-ego shouted back at me.”Hey what if the person is not fortunate enough to be able to rationalize and think like you do?What if he is unable to visualize the beauty of nature like you?What if he has permanently lost the ability of leading a healthy life and has no more expectations from life?”
               Aruna Shanbaug was a lively young girl working as a nurse and dreamt of  a colourful life like any one of us.She was raped and strangled by a ward-boy leading her to be a virtually dead person or in a “persistent negative state” in medical terms.She is unable to smell,see or express anything.In short she shows no sign of a living person.In such a heart rendering case is it befitting to keep her alive and let her suffer when her own closed ones have plead for her peaceful death?Had Aruna been in a state of expressing herself she would have begged for the same.
                   There is a limit to human suffering especially when there is no ray of hope at the end of the tunnel.Quality of life is as important as life itself.A terminally ill cancer patient can be advised to stop taking  further sessions of chemotherapy or a hopeless kidney patient can be put off from a dialysis treatment.In no case it would be a crime against humanity as the patient has been given a peaceful death rather than a few more years of suffering resulting in the same cause.
              I would further like to draw the attention of the readers to the case of Chantel Sabire,a French woman who suffered from a rare form of cancer.She lost her sense of sight,taste and smell.Refusing to live with the curse she appealed for her “mercy-killing”.Rejected by the court she killed herself stating-one should not allow an animal to go through what I have endured.These are the dangerous precedents where one has no other option but to take the nature in their own hands;to play god by themselves.The case of Chantel Sabire has sparked a debate in Europe and various countries are going in the way of legalizing euthanasia to stop such pathetic incidents in future.
             It is ironic that a vibrant democracy like India has no provision for it in the constitution.There are concerns that a law legalizing euthanasia would be grossly misused and would result in a moral degradation of the society.But isn’t it the case with any other law?A strong safeguard would ensure that only those people who has no hope of recovery be allowed to exercise the RIGHT TO DIE option.A national consensus on this sensitive issue should be organized and a law enacted in the parliament very soon.The case of Aruna Shanbaug should act as an eye opener for us.
              Let’s hope in the coming days we would act more mature,flexible ,tolerant and try to look at the issue through the eyes of those who endures hopeless,unimaginable sufferings ,because death is never the first choice and people opt for this because there is no other path to take.

*varying opinions are always welcome