How does it sound when a healthy ageing adult wishes for assisted-suicide as his/her birthday gift? Terrifying? Haunting? Sad? But this is the reality in today’s world where many old-age couples wish to end their lives while they are still happy and healthy as they fear loneliness or terminal illnesses that might strike them anytime.
Euthanasia is helping a terminally sick person to end his/her life to relieve him/her of suffering. This is a critical issue that garners extremely different views from people worldwide as every person’s view on life is different. A controversial and emotive topic, passive euthanasia (2 types exist) is legalized in India since March 2018 under rigid guidelines only when the patient is terminally ill or in a vegetative state. Let’s assume that your family doctor knows you for years together, has witnessed your physical/mental deterioration as you age and feel pitiable for your living. At this juncture, if this physician prescribes terminal illness drugs that are in practice not needed for your comfort (for example, sedative overdose or muscle relaxant) but prescribed with the only aim of ending your life, it is euthanasia, active euthanasia. But if the same doctor assists you in committing suicide or encourages you to commit suicide at your request, it is assisted suicide. It might even be your friend who purchases strong sedatives to help you end your life at your request. He/she is assisting you in your suicide venture and this too falls under the same category.
Sometimes, people withhold or withdraw treatments needed for maintaining life which can result in death of the patient and this is called as passive euthanasia. Patients themselves most of the times feel like giving up on living and wish for a peaceful death. In such cases, they request for voluntary euthanasia. Some other times, it is the family members of terminally-ill or ‘vegetative state’ patients who request for mercy killing as defined as involuntary euthanasia.
Parents who introduce us to this world become dependent on us for life as they age. They are left to plead and seek mercy from their sons, daughters, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law to be spared to live. Thalaikoothal is the illegal and traditional process of geronticide or involuntary euthanasia forced by family members over their elderly relatives which is commonly practiced in some parts of southern districts of Tamil Nadu. While reasons cited by the person performing the euthanasia is generally terminal illness, suffering or physical pain, the process is performed even due to greed of money, dispute between siblings for acquisition of will and many things more.
Motivating Factors for Euthanasia
While extreme pain is the first reason that strikes us when someone prefers euthanasia, there are other reasons that serve as equal contributing factors. Terminal illness that robs a person of his/her quality living due to conditions such as nausea, incontinence, vomiting, paralysis or swallowing difficulties and psychological factors such as depression, loss of control or dignity, feeling a burden or uninterest in leading life as a dependent are other strong factors that motivate a person to seek euthanasia.
Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, South Korea and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Montana, Washington DC and California. Society today forces both parents to work in order to match expenses and the elderly people are left at the mercy of domestic aids or worse, themselves, for food and attention. This has pushed many healthy ageing couples to come forward and seek permission for assisted suicide to end their lives gracefully without much pain. Some other elderly people are tired of living, have lost the desire to explore life or feel it a pain to even do their daily chores and hence, choose such dying options. An Australian scientist, David Goodall, travelled to Switzerland to end his life via assisted suicide at the age of 104. Though not terminally ill, he was left with limited mobility, failing eye sight and had no desire to live anymore. Illegalization of euthanasia in countries force such citizens to undergo the pain of travel to end their lives!
A couple in Mumbai, India have sent a petition to the President of our country seeking permission for assisted suicide despite the absence of terminal illness or pain in either of them. The couple wish for this as they are satisfied of leading a fulfilled life and fear that either of them might pass away which would lead to mental agony, pain and dependency for the other. Is life so simple that we want to end it for such trivial reasons or are we the ones complicating it by forcing people to live without any interest in life? Situations might differ, opinions might vary and the reactions could be harsh, but the reality now is that more and more people wish for assisted suicide in all parts of the world!
Arguments For & Against Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide
Each of us have an opinion and like to raise our views/concerns on general subjects. What are the various reasons quoted by people for supporting or disapproving assisted suicide?
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