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Euthanasia: Who Makes the Decision?

Posted on August 22, 2011 in Specials

By Shreya Vajpei

When life is woe,
and hope is dumb,
the world says, “Go”
And the Grave says, “Come”!

The concept of Euthanasia is perhaps one of the most debated issues in the field of bioethics. Euthanasia refers to the practice of ending life in a manner which relieves pain and suffering.

The usual dilemma is the very concept. Should one prolong the act of dying in a case of inevitable death or when life is effectively over?

Dr. Arthur of UK had once prescribed an overdose of codeine to an infant with Down’s syndrome with an object to hasten death. He was charged with murder and many eminent witnesses were tried. Finally, Dr. Arthur was acquitted as his motive was compassion and he was driven by empathy.

Obviously Dr. Arthur could realize that the child’s life would be full of suffering and pain. He realized that his act would free this child of possible hardship he would have had to face eventually. But was the decision his to make?

Life and death are not an option but a gift of god. He is the giver and sustainer of life. And it is in His hands at all times. But how do we justify the life of a person who is quadriplegic or is in permanent vegetative condition? With no possible cure in sight and no positive development, do the doctor’s have the right to prolong their life? Or should they give up for the person’s fight for life and let the nature take its course? Let us not get optimistic or skeptical but downright realistic.

The philosophically driven guilt element with taking away one’s life will always persist. But the humans have to evolve with time and always have room for change. And one such change is Euthanasia.

To deny a competent individual the right to end his own pain and suffering is undignified and oppressive. Who is one to force someone to cope with unbearable, agonizing, excruciating pain? Just because one’s moral beliefs may point that God is the sole entity with the decision of life and death does not mean one can force them to live in suffering and adversity. The torture that the sufferers are put through by forces to live against murder is a crime way worse than murder.

Euthanasia is already legal regarding animals-many dogs are ‘put to sleep’ each year for instance. But the humans become skeptical when another human’s agony is in question? Do they have more love and empathy for their pets rather than the same for a fellow being? Is it not the time we as a race evolved?