Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On Mercy Killings and Euthanasia

Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Right above the huge tender was a tiny article about a teenage girl in Siliguri, who was demanding mercy killing. The issue of mercy killing has been discussed several times and yet there is no provision in the constitution about it. The legal hassles involved are just too much.

In the case of the girl, Ms Fulbari Das, is requesting mercy killing, where a person asks for death to end her suffering. It is voluntary. She is requesting her life be ended because she has been suffering from tremendous abdominal pain. After her surgery (to remove the kidney stones), her condition only worsened and for the past year, she has been living under a lot of pain.

I have lost all faith in doctors as I don’t know if my disease or wrong treatment is responsible for my condition

-Ms Fulbari Das

She is currently admitted in the North Bengal Medical College &Hospital.

Now there are a lot of factors that one needs to take into consideration. Now this is a rather complicated case (as most euthanasia cases are). The first and foremost is regarding terminal illness.

I have found no other mention of Ms Fulbari on the net. So based on the information in the newspaper, she is suffering from tremendous pain. I am assuming that’s the only reason why she wants to end her life.

What I mean to say is that I don’t think Fulbari’s case can be proved as terminal illness merely because the cause of her condition isn’t fully known. Another issue which might stop the stop the doctors from taking the step (apart from their inhibitions that they’re breaking the law) might be her young age. It’s quite convenient to think that a young girl like Fulbari might be making a hasty decision and this might just be a solution to end the short term discomfort. One way of looking at it is that it’s her life and now that she is legally an adult she should be responsible for it. Another way at looking at it might be that she is still quite young and has her whole life ahead of her and what if there’s a slightest chance of the pain going away. The question here is, as long as the doctors take their time to find a solution, this woman is experiencing pain beyond everything. Should that or shouldn’t that entitle her to end her life.

Indian constitution hasn’t really helped matters either. Verdicts in the past have shifted either ways, merely because of the complexity of the circumstances. The Indian Constitution says that the ''Right to Die'' is not a fundamental right under Article 21. However for the first time in 1987, during the The State of Maharashtra v. Maruti Shripathi Dubal case the judges at the Bombay High Court felt that the desire to die is merely abnormal/uncommon but not unnatural. 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. And finally held that everyone should have the freedom to dispose of his life as and when he desires. That being said there have been many more instances where panels of judges have simply overruled the plea.

I think the authorities should really work on the finer aspects and various circumstances. The reason I say this is because we’re really progressing as far as science is concerned. In the future years the technology might achieve so much progress so much so that we might have support systems which can keep a person alive, just saving him from claws of death but not really giving him a life. What if the person doesn’t want treatment? I think along side the research that’s going on in medicine (or any other branch), we must also keep updating our constitution regarding matters which might be affected dude to this advancement in technology.

Crossposted on Mutiny and Desicritics

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The Dark Lord

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Atin Bhattacharya

Me says, did you know that suicide is a crime in India? That's a jolly good fact, isn't it kids?


Suicide is't, but yes attempted suicide is. Now THAT's interesting. So its a lot like copying in school. If you get caught while doing it, then you're penalised.

Rather amusing how you don't have rights to your life as much as the state does, for you're considere as an asset to the state.

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