Euthanasia – Sans safeguards, euthanasia law will backfire

By Express News Service  in New Indian Express,14/5/16/

                       (Note: Many countries in Europe and many states in America have already passed Doctor assisted death or Euthenasia in its various forms. That is not a reason why it should be done in India. There is a great deal of rational basis for permitting it. So it is being discussed in Parliament  also in India.The danger is that it will be greatly misused by children who have no concern for their aging parents. The counter argument is that there is no good rule which is not James Kottormisused. Another is  no one wants to die soon, even the terribly sick, although they know that will have to succumb to death some time or  other, that they cannot post pone death endlessly. There may be few eager to quit this world for various  reasons like this scribe, but their number is too few. So euthanasia may not become legal in India in the near future. James kottoor, editor)

Any legal effort to regulate life and death is fraught with risks and dangers. These can be seen from different perspectives  —  ethical, moral, religious, philosophical, socio-economical and political — and therefore, discussions would elude consensus and conclusiveness. Laws and court judgements on abortion, death penalty, suicide and euthanasia continue to be contentious, controversial and debatable. The irreversible nature of death weighs on the minds of law and policy-makers and since to err is human, there is always a possibility of miscarriage of justice. It is therefore considered wise to err on the side of caution.

It is against this backdrop a bill on passive euthanasia in the country is being debated. The title of the proposed legislation, Medical Treatment of Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill, focuses both on the interests of patients seeking or needing passive euthanasia and medical practitioners who have to facilitate it. More than a decade ago, a mother had appealed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court to allow euthanasia plea for her young son, a former chess player, who was suffering from a degenerative muscular dystrophy condition. There were also a few other cases, the most notable one was of a nurse, a victim of sexual assault, who was in a coma in a Mumbai hospital for over four decades. In her case, the Supreme Court took note of passive euthanasia, i.e., withholding of treatment or taking a person off life support or medication — and deemed it legal even in the absence of a law.

Now the government is contemplating a law essentially to specify permissible conditions and in-built safeguards against misuse and abuse. In a resource-scarce country like India, where the value of human life is subject to exigencies and compulsions, the need for effective safeguards is as important, if not more, than the need for such a legislation.

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