Euthanasia- Is It "Right" To Die?

Aarushi Mittal, Student
Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
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Date : 11/08/2021 Location : Kelley School of Business,
Indiana University, Bloomington, USA.

Euthanasia- Is It "Right" To Die?

Have you ever met an immortal?

"Life and death are inseparable. Every moment our bodies undergo change. Life is not disconnected from death. Dying is a part of the process of living." - Justice D.Y. Chandrachud

When a person ends his life by his own act, it is called "suicide" but to end life of a person by others, though on the request of the deceased, is called "euthanasia" or "mercy killing".

Euthanasia is described as the deliberate and intentional killing of a person for the benefit of that person in order to relieve him from pain and suffering. The term is derived from the Greek words which literally means "good death" (Eu= Good;Thanatos=Death). The term was coined by the great historian Suetonius, who described the way King Augustus opted for quick, painful death without suffering. Euthanasia is defined as the administration of a lethal agent by another person to a patient for the purpose of relieving the patient's intolerable and incurable suffering.

It is usually separated into two categories: passive and active euthanasia. Active euthanasia is when death is brought about by an act - for example when a person is killed by being given an overdose of pain-killers. Passive euthanasia is when death is brought about by an omission - i.e., when someone lets the person die. This can be by withdrawing or withholding treatment.

This has been a much-debated issue throughout the world. The debate has become increasingly significant because of the developments in Netherlands[1*] and Belgium[2*] and few other countries where euthanasia has been allowed. I, as a proponent of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) feel that an individual's right to autonomy automatically entitles him to choose a painless death. The opponents feel that a physician's role in the death of an individual violates the central tenet of the medical profession.

[1* `Termination of life on request and assisted suicide (Review Procedures) Act' by The Dutch Senate. (2002, April 1). BBC News from]

[2* Jans, J. (2005). The Belgian "Act on Euthanasia": Clarifying Context, Legislation, and Practice from an Ethical Point of View. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, 25(2), 163-177. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from]

The Supreme Court of India in Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug v. Union of India, 2011 AIR SC 1290 gave legal recognition to Passive euthanasia in India and robust interpretation of `Right to life' including `Right to die', thereby bringing it within manifold of article-21 of Constitution of India. However, another landmark judgement in Common Cause (A Regd. Society) v. Union of India, 2018 AIR SC 1665 has given legal sanction to passive euthanasia by permitting 'living will' by patients to withdraw medical support if they slip into irreversible coma by holding that Right to die with dignity" is a fundamental right within the fold of "right to live with dignity" as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Wherefore, the main intent behind the practice of Euthanasia is not to take a life of a person, but to relive him from all forms of pains and suffering, which can also be named as `good death'.

`Right to life' is given in all the nations of the world while `Right to Die' is recognized only in a few nations of the world. The reason being as it might lead to an increase in casual attitude of health care personnel ultimately leading to private killings for covering up wrong diagnosis and treatments.

While the contrary view is that a patient must not suffer and `Right to life' includes within itself `right to die with dignity'. Dying people are not suicidal - they don't want to die but they do not have the choice to live. When death is inevitable, suffering should not be. That is why I call for a law based on one that has worked safely in Oregon[3*] and has remained unchanged since 1997, a law that is now in place in California[4*], Washington[5*] and other US states.

[3* Death with Dignity Act 1994 (the DWDA) from]

[4* End of Life Option Act; approved in 2015, in effect from 2016 from]

[5* Death with Dignity Act; 2008 from]

As an advocate for controlled active euthanasia, I strong believe and insist that active euthanasia is made legal in India and everywhere else. Despite the loopholes, until there is a medical breakthrough to combat terminal illness, I assert that a controlled system can be worked through and patients can happily plan his death, instead of desperately waiting for it.

To conclude, I would like to quote Pamela Bone.

"I'm not afraid of being dead. I'm just afraid of what you might have to go through to get there."

(The author is a Freshman at Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA and the views shared herein are personal only)

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