Euthanasia, also called mercy killing, acts or practice of painlessly putting to death persons suffering from a painful and incurable disease or incapacitating physical disorder or allowing them to die by withholding treatment or withdrawing artificial life-support measures. Because there is no specific provision for it in most legal systems, it is usually regarded as either suicide (if performed by the patient himself) or murder (if performed by another). Physicians may, however, lawfully decide not to prolong life in cases of extreme suffering, and they may administer drugs to relieve pain even if this shortens the patient’s life.
What is Euthanasia?
The term was derived from the Greek words ‘EU’ and ‘Thanatos’ which means ‘good or easy death’. Euthanasia can
be defined as the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit. It is also known as ‘Mercy Killing’ which is an act where the individual who, is in an irremediable condition or has no chances of survival as he is suffering from painful life, painlessly ends his life. The Right to die is a concept that is based on the opinion that a human being is entitled to make any decisions about ending his or her life (this also includes undergoing voluntary euthanasia).
Types of Euthanasia
There are primarily two types of Euthanasia.
- Active euthanasia refers to the physician’s deliberate act, usually, the administration of lethal drugs, to end an incurably or terminally ill patient’s life.
- Passive euthanasia refers to withholding or withdrawing treatment that is necessary for maintaining life.
Both euthanasia and assisted suicide are considered illegal in many countries since they can amount to murder in disguise.
Classification of Euthanasia
Euthanasia can also be classed as voluntary or involuntary.
- Voluntary: When euthanasia is conducted with consent. Voluntary euthanasia is currently legal in Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and the states of Oregon and Washington in the U.S.
- Non-voluntary: When euthanasia is conducted on a person who is unable to consent due to their current health condition. In this scenario, the decision is made by another appropriate person, on behalf of the patient, based on their quality of life and suffering.
- Involuntary: When euthanasia is performed on a person who would be able to provide informed consent, but does not, either because they do not want to die, or because they were not asked. This is called murder, as it’s often against the patient’s will.
Euthanasia is indeed a contentious issue, with the heart of the debate lying at active voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. There is an urgent need to invest in our health care system so that people suffering from
serious ill-health can access free health care. Investment in health care is under ‘Right to Health’ which is bestowed under ‘Right to Life’ of our Constitution. Thus, the complete expenses need to be borne by the State so that the ‘Right to life’ becomes a reality and succeeds before the ‘Right to die with dignity.