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Friday, October 2, 2015

Voluntary Euthanasia – The Right to Die

By Payyalore Kolathooran
Our country’s Constitution has included the “right to live” as a fundamental right. The Constitution has also conferred on us the right to live with dignity, self respect and esteem. Most Constitutions cross the world have done ditto.  And almost all the major religions of the world celebrate life as sacred. However, the Jainism provides for santara (liberation) from live by allowing a person to court death through fasting.
The objective of this piece is not about the  right t live. It is about the right to die.
Our life s our own. Our actions are our own. And the consequences of our actions are our responsibility. But what about death?
AS one advances in age he reaches a point of obsolescence. Age, physical  wear and tear, mental tension, diseases, stress, etc  wears the body down make it dilapidated and unfit for productive action, the spirit takes a beating. Man is reduced to a state of unproductivity, becomes a burden and instead of being  a contributing member to his family or society, becomes a liability. He drags his body along posing concern to and becomes a drain on the family’s and society’s resources and is generally a burden.
I recall the case of an 82 a old  Malayali who had petitioned the Kerala High Court for voluntary euthanasia. His argument was that even though he was physically, mentally and financially sound, he claimed he was using up his family’s and society’s c that could otherwise be used for more productive social and national purposes. Don’t know how the matter ended but his appeal to the Court resulted in a storm of debates across the country.
Honestly, what purpose is served by prolonging life beyond its productive years? 
Gonea re the days when elders  and the ailing were looked after b y the joint families they lived in. N today’s scenario, the joint family is an institution of the past, Children move away to far off places in seek of greener pastures.. The elders are left behind to lead lonely lives, full of uncertainty. Or those who move in with their children find themselves, particularly t5hose living on foreign shores, find themselves like fish out of water, unwanted but tolerated and are a drain on the limited resdources, and very often an embarrassment if they suffer from bladder or bowel incontinence.
One has seen several elders, hundreds of them  in this pathetic condition, especially in countries like the USA. Unwilling to keep them, unable to discard them, these elderly parents initially go to their children as baby sitters and housekeepers, later become physically useless and end up being a burden on them.

Just as they have  right to live, shouldn’t they have the right to die?
Sounds promising though. But the people around are not very honest. If law grants right to die, you may find many deaths, though most of them could have been sheer murder. How do you prove the right to die by dying?  Will be there be medical witness, or a medical certificate about the right person who can be allowed to die ? What ?

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