I watched Barry Levinson’s ‘You Don’t Know Jack’ starring the legendary Al Pacino, last night. It is an outstanding film, to say the least. Al Pacino plays Dr. Jack Kevorkian – The American pathologist and right-to-die activist. Pacino’s portrayal of  Dr. Jack Kevorkian won him Emmy Award too. The film got me thinking about euthanasia.

Imagine lying on a hospital bed with thin tubes running like snakes through every opening of your body. You want to die. Foreign machines embedded into your skin, pumping in a magical fluid that keeps your time ticking, yet robbing every measure of your humanity. You want to die. You drop in and out of consciousness as they dope you with doses of powerful drugs. You want to die. There is no event in your life except that sharp pain which raises its ugly head at regular intervals. You want to die. You can’t be relieved of your excruciating pain and granted your death because the law refuses to give you the one thing you crave – your DEATH.

Legalisation of Euthanasia is one of the flaming issues in society today. Euthanasia is more commonly referred to as ‘Mercy killing’. This is a concept which propagates the ‘Right to Die’.

There are countless elderly people and terminally ill patients who have expressed a desire to die and have literally begged for death! Their families have abandoned many of these people as they are considered a financial and an emotional burden, but there are some ‘Humanitarians’ who insist on keeping them alive against their own will.

We live in the largest democracy where people have the freedom of choice, yet in their final painful days, when they need to exercise this right and make an important decision, they are denied it. Sad, but true.

In some countries Euthanasia has been legalised, but in some it is still inhuman, condemned and illegal. To some people it is an inhumane practice, but to some it’s the only humane thing to do.

Imagine a patient in the last stages of cancer, thin and weak, can’t sleep, sit, eat or even talk without pain. He’s waiting for the plug to be pulled on him. Yet, he is forced to fight a battle he knows he has already lost. Why? Only because the law does not allow him to die? People want to die without pain; they wish to end their life with an easy death. They want to die with a smile and not with dreadful pain. Then Why? Why can’t we grant them this last wish?

It’s true that everyone has the right to live, but there are times when we need to learn to let go…


  1. I agree with your point of view. But with that logic certain questions come into play.

    For one, if Euthanasia is legalized, suicide should be too. If you have the right to end your life, who is to decide what amount/type of pain is an acceptable reason?

    Also, legalization creates a loophole in the system – an excuse for murder. And as we all know, we’re really good as using loopholes to our advantage.

    Despite these counterpoints which have played on my mind, sometimes Euthanasia does seem like a better option.

  2. Ranjit says:

    Death itself is an issue which have cleaved the medical fraternity. What is death? When the heart stops beating? Brain death? Irreversible cessation of electrical activity in the whole brain is now the accepted norm. This gets complicated in the Intensive critical care unit where bed side ventilators are available.
    One could broadly say that if a third party performs the last act that intentionally causes a patient’s death, it is euthanasia. In the Indian context, this argument is not nuanced as yet. Critical care remains expensive and beyond the reach of most Indians. Hospitals too are generally unwilling to have a patient avail of a critical care bed for a prolonged duration. In developed countries, this is a contentious matter. The suffering of carers, specifically family members is intense. The patient too faces improbable odds of survival. Closure is something that typically brings relief to everyone involved.
    We need guidelines and stringent criteria to define the conditions where Euthanasia would be permitted. This can only be done at a national level to preempt law suits and transgressions. This should be preceded by a debate incorporating doctors, psychologists, social scientists and the community at large.
    There is no clear yes and no to this debate. There are several philosophical arguments against Euthanasia. I for one, believe that Euthanasia should be debated dispassionately and the way ahead will emerge. Medical science evolves at a much faster pace and this debate is something that needs to be addressed now rather than being pushed on the back burner.

  3. burpingbutterfly says:

    A friend’s dad was diagnosed with Cancer last year in January. By the time they discovered it, it had spread to his lungs, his liver etc and the doctors pretty much guaranteed that there was no hope of survival. BUT, my friend’s family of course hoping for a miracle, tried everything possible to keep him alive. So he went in for chemo session after chemo session after chemo session. He made it till August but at what cost? By the end of it, he couldn’t walk, had lost an insane amount of weight, was in constant pain, couldn’t sit, couldn’t lie down, couldn’t pee by himself, needed help with everything and it SUCKED to see him so helpless. I for one know that I would never want to be in that situation. I know we are selfish and that we want a loved one to make it more than anything else but maybe beyond a point we should just let them be and not mess with nature’s plan and like you said, learn to let go….

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