Posted Date: 17/01/2019
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Euthanasia – A Planned Full-stop

Somewhere in the world, an old man was on his death bed, doctors pumping life into him artificially. He wished to die peacefully in his own home, surrounded by his family, and not on some hospital bed. Placing this will in front of the doctor and his family members, he asked them to take him home when still alive and let him die at his own conditions. After all the arguments and looking at his irreversible medical condition, they had to comply with his wish and they arranged to take him home. Living at the mercy of a ventilator, he asked to be free of this life-support after he met all his family for the last time, dying happily surrounded by everyone that he loved. The old man chose what we today call Passive Euthanasia.

The word Euthanasia, widely known as mercy killing, has created a hustle enough to grab everybody’s attention today. Sometimes attached with sentiments, sometimes with controversies, and sometimes with ethics, it has divided the world population in two parts- those in favor of and those against. Coming from the Greek words- ‘Eu’ meaning good, and ‘Thanatosis’ meaning death, Euthanasia is basically a term for ‘Good Death’. It is a term used for what they call peaceful, dignified, easy, or gentle death.

Turning Back the Pages

In our history, we can find countless acts where hopelessly incurable patients were given easy death. Years ago, in Greece, patients with terminal illness suffering with a lot of pain were given a poisoned drink, in the form of a medicine, by the physicians in order to bring them an easy death. Also, in India, incurable patients were drowned in River Ganges, to release them from the life full of pain. These are the perfect examples of active euthanasia- an act to bring upon a deliberate and direct death to a patient. In ancient times passive euthanasia, correctly termed as orthothanasia, was also practiced. In this, the patients are allowed to die, by with-holding or withdrawing the treatment, rather than killing them directly. During the rise of Nazis, under a program to eliminate life unworthy of life, Hitler ordered the sick and disabled to be euthanized on large-scale, in 1939. Although all through the history most of the religions and philosophers deemed euthanasia as a sin or a crime, there were some who advocated the action, for good, bad, as well as horrendous reasons.

Forms of Euthanasia

There are various forms of Euthanasia- active and passive that we saw before, voluntary, non-voluntary, and involuntary, direct and indirect, and assisted suicide. Euthanizing a person on his/her own request is voluntary euthanasia. In non-voluntary euthanasia, a person is not in the condition to place the request or unable to make the choice, like a child or a mentally unfit patient, so someone on the behalf of them takes the decision. When the patient refuses to die and even then is euthanized, such a case falls under involuntary euthanasia and is mostly ruled as murder. In indirect euthanasia, a patient is given a treatment that has the side effect of speeding up the process of their death. This is usually done with the intention of reducing the pain and also called as palliative care today. As the motto is not to kill the patient but reduce the pain, it is accepted as euthanasia. In assisted suicide, a dying person who needs help to kill themselves is assisted in doing so to allow easy death.

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