The Choice..

Can’t imagine letting go but can’t hold on any more.. what happens when it’s not a thing, a place or person that is the subject of the decision…. but LIFE itself!!

Yes Euthanasia!! Derived from Greek it means “good death”. It is the practice of “intentionally ending” a life to relieve pain and suffering.

Interestingly there are as many varied views about this as maybe the number of living themselves and no wonder it is one of the most active areas of research. This has ensured different euthanasia laws are followed in each country. Euthanasia is categorised in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient’s consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries. Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient’s will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.

India’s position has been unique since most religions have a diverged view on the subject as well. The Hindu scriptures say that life and death is the gift of god and no human being has the right to take away the said gift. Muslims also strongly condemn suicide as they believe life and death of a person depends on Allah’s will and human beings are prohibited in going against his will .Christianity also disapproves taking of one’s life – Bible says human being is a temple of god and the spirit of god dwelleth in the body and no man can defile the temple.

While, Tenets of Jainism talk about the practice of religiously nominated self-build death called ‘Sallkhana’, meaning ‘fast unto death’ and Buddhist scriptures state that Lord Buddha had allowed self-build death for the extremely ill person as an act of compassion. Also, In ancient Indian religion, sanctity was attached to a yogi who could discard his/her mortal coil (body) through the process of higher spiritual practices called yoga. Such state was known as ‘samadhi’.

With all these religious emotions involved it took a 24 year long debate that started way back in 1994 & uncountable cases for the highest court in India to finally decide and since March 2018, passive euthanasia is legal in India under strict guidelines. Patients must consent through a living will and must be either terminally ill or in a vegetative state.

However, this debate is beyond the spiritual text of any religion and beyond the boundaries of any country …

The supporters of euthanasia talk about a terminally ill person’s right to avoid pain and embrace a quick, dignified, and compassionate death and the psychological effect on the family & friends that the illness may have.  While the opponents advocate the moral responsibility of the doctors to keep their patients alive. They argue there may be a “slippery slope” from euthanasia to murder, and that legalising euthanasia will unfairly target the poor and disabled and create incentives for insurance companies to terminate lives in order to save money. There is also a strong religious perspective of “Trying to be God” and letting someone die before their time.

Most of us pray for a long healthy life … but almost all of us hope for a peaceful, dignified end…while the debate goes on for centuries, research indicates that Pain wasn’t one of the top five reasons people sought euthanasia. Top reasons were a loss of dignity, and a fear of burdening others.

So, are the opponents right in their assessment? Should the decision be about pain only and not stem from an insensitive society that cannot accept disability & may consider some of our living as a liability? Is it the decision of the dying or the ones left behind? Is the decision to end life only yes / no or is it about how & when?

Will there ever be a way to find out if its less painful to let go or hold on? Is life merely about breathing or being alive in each breath? I don’t know…I guess not …. May be because Death has a certain finality build into it and when it’s time to let go and say the final good bye it’s hard to remember Death is not the opposite of life but a part of it because No one is actually Dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.

Someone once told me “Living Life is all about making choices” but strangely how it ends is most often not a matter of choice! But if there was a choice of when & how would we not want to make it ?

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