India’s Passive Euthanasia Bill–legalizing the murder of sick, both young and old.
India is set to pass passive euthanasia bill allowing patients as young as 16 years old to kill oneself. The medical treatment of terminally ill patients (protection of patients and medical practitioners) bill, 2016 makes preposterous proposals to make Passive euthanasia widely available. It aims to protect doctors, hospitals and caregivers from criminal liability. The groundbreaking Aruna Shaunbag Vs Union of India (2009) case opened the discussions about Euthanasia letting the genie out of the bottle.
Background of the Case–Terri Schiavo of India
Aruna Shaunbag was working as a nurse at the KEM hospital, Mumbai when she was attacked by the janitor of the same ward. The sweeper chocked her with a dog chain and sodomized her. Because of asphyxiation, she ended up with a brain injury which blinded her and left her in a vegetative state for 42years. It is important to note that when journalist Pinki took Aruna’s case to courts for Euthanasia, Aruna was not brain dead or on life support. Even though the court rejected the plea to euthanize Aruna, it legalized passive euthanasia. And after 7 years in 2016, the Law Commission of India has presented the Passive Euthanasia Bill preparing the world’s second largest nation to kill its citizens.
Highlights of the bill
Earlier on October 27, 2017, in the Congress for Adolescent’s Health held in Delhi Prof. Philip Jaffe from the University of Geneva praised and recommended Belgium model of Euthanasia to be the right approach to healthcare for adolescents in India. And the MTTP bill might have taken his insane suggestion too seriously to follow Belgium and Canada in extending Euthanasia for children from its inception. Unlike the case of Aruna Shaunbag, the MTTP bill calls for euthanizing people who may not be in a coma or vegetative state. Even someone with chronic paranoid schizophrenia, Major Depressive Disorder or cancer could be a candidate for being euthanized with or without consent as per this bill.
What’s wrong with Passive Euthanasia?
“I will not give lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan.” This is part of the original Hippocratic Oath, the cornerstone of the medical profession. A person-centered approach rather than disease-centered perspective is the most important aspect of medicine because that decides the course of action taken in caring for the suffering person. Medicine exists for ‘the person’ and not ‘the person’ for the medicine. Legalizing Euthanasia shifts the focus from healing and caring to killing and discarding. If we killed people with polio, smallpox, and plague, we would have never made the groundbreaking scientific advancement to find the treatment of these diseases and even eradicating some of them.
Legalizing passive euthanasia is not the end. It does not end pain and definitely not the answer to suffering. It is a misconstrued notion of compassion that takes the dangerous road to judge and decide if some life is worthy of “living” and receiving quality care than the rest, without a proper understanding of the ontology of pain. One good look at the countries that legalized euthanasia is the proof. They began with the compassionate notion of alleviating the pain but later on added sick children, mentally ill , people suffering from addiction disorders and now even healthy individuals who are experience fleeting moments of hopelessness and emotional problems.
Passive euthanasia leads to active euthanasia. Active euthanasia leads to assisted suicide. Consider Belgium, the country legalized euthanasia in 2002 mainly to alleviate patients suffering extreme pain. By 2010 they included patients with dementia into the category, In 2014 they included minors regardless of age and condition into the category. By 2015, allowed patients with psychological and emotional problems to be candidates for euthanasia. By 2017 the number of death by euthanasia increased in Belgium dramatically. There were several cases of abuse where patients were euthanized without consent of their own of even against the consent of the care taker.
The intention of the MTTP bill is to decriminalize euthanasia and eventually suicide. Most vulnerable persons who need care and attention might be considered burdensome and useless and quickly discarded as trash. What lies ahead and what India is unprepared for is the massive amount of violence that will be unleashed on the poor, sick, weak and old under the term of “medical care”. If this law is passed, there will be hundreds of Terri Schiavo, Candice Lewis, Jahi McMath and many more killed by doctors and state without the consent of patients themselves and even their relatives. What we’re about to unleash is a predator. It will not be too long for ‘Right to Die’ to become ‘Duty to kill’. When we reach that point, it will be too late.