Discuss euthanasia and its ethical dimensions.

11/26/2016| Views(799 ) | Writing Structure |Qchat

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Euthanasia is the termination of a very sick person's life in order to relieve them of their suffering. A person who undergoes euthanasia usually has an incurable condition

At the global scenario , less than a dozen countries in the world currently have legal provisions for euthanasia.
India is one of them via the Supreme Court’s 2011 verdict in the Aruna Shanbaug case. There, it rejected the euthanasia petition filed by journalist Pinki Virani but established the legal framework for allowing passive euthanasia (as opposed to active euthanasia, which would entail the doctor administering drugs to end the patient’s life).

Government has proposed Medical Treatment of Terminally-Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Bill which seeks to codify and regulate this framework.

There are two perspectives on the issue. The first is the legal. The state has an understandable interest in maintaining its monopoly on the right to—in crude terms—end a citizen’s life. This is foundational to its legitimacy and authority. There are other practical concerns as well. Euthanasia is difficult to regulate and laws allowing it can be vulnerable to malicious intent. At the very least, moral pressure could be exerted on the terminally ill to choose this option.
Yet, these concerns do not outweigh the individual’s inalienable right to choose how to conduct their private life when that conduct does not cause harm to other individuals or the state. This is particularly so when a patient has no hope of recovery and is suffering greatly, or is in a vegetative state and kept alive by medical apparatus. For the state to insist for its own benefit that the patient continue to spend financial and physical resources in order to continue suffering is perverse.

There is also a broader ethical and theological perspective. India’s Constitution draws upon Western liberal ideals and the constitutions wherein they are enshrined.
A direct line can be drawn back from those ideals to the philosophy of Enlightenment thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, whose formulations of universally applicable laws and humanity as an end in itself would argue against euthanasia.
The line goes further back to Thomas Aquinas, priest, philosopher, theologian and one of the founding figures of modern jurisprudence with his formulation of natural law. The sanctity of life inherent in his philosophy would argue against euthanasia as well.

In relation to the case Nikhil Soni vs Union of India in 2015, Indian philosophical and theological traditions across various strands of thought—from Jainism to Buddhism and Hinduism—have a more nuanced understanding of an individual’s right to decide on their life and the ethical considerations therein. That understanding dovetails here with the evolution of democratic thought and the limits of state power.

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