Kanpur, India. Sept 15th: A poor woman in Kanpur, India has written a letter to India’s President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking permission to euthanize her 10 year old son suffering from cancer, saying her son is in constant pain and that she cannot afford the treatment costs which are really high.
Due to her financial status, she is not able to get treatment for her son. The woman whose name was not disclosed had reportedly taken her son who is striken with cancer to many hospitals in India and finally in desperation wrote to the Indian President as a last resort as she believes her son is not getting adequate care because of her financial status.
This has sparked off debate in India about why a mother who can give her own life to save her child, should be put in a financial situation that would warrant the same mother to now be praying for her son’s death.
By asking for euthanasia for her 10 year old son suffering from cancer she raises both ethical and legal questions and puts the spotlight on the legal status of euthanasia of humans in India.
Euthanasia is defined as the act of intentionally ending a person’s life so as to help relieve suffering or pain. If for example a doctor was to give a patient suffering from a terminal condition such as cancer an overdose of drugs that would end the patient’s life, this would be considered as euthanasia. Deliberately aiding, or encouraging a person to commit suicide would also be considered as assisted suicide. A good example would be obtaining powerful sedatives for a terminally ill person with full awareness that the medication would be used for suicide.
Human euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, and Luxembourg. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Canada, and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Vermont, Montana, Washington DC, and California.
Although active euthanasia is illegal in Mexico, the law allows for passive euthanasia to take place. Close relatives of a terminally ill unconscious patient or the patient could refuse further treatment. This law has been applicable since 2008 and a similar law which sought to have some extended provisions that decriminalize active euthanasia is pending approval.
Photo: Woman Writes Indian President For Permission To Euthanize 10 year old son suffering from cancer
India is yet another country where euthanasia is legal. However, the law only recognizes passive euthanasia as legal. This law was passed by the Supreme Court of India in 2011 as a means to legally withdraw life support in patients who are in a permanent vegetative state. Active euthanasia is however still illegal in India and this includes using lethal compounds to end a person’s life.