The Supreme Court's decision declining permission to withdraw life support to Aruna Shanbaug, who has been in a permanent vegetative state for 37 years, is unfortunate. Euthanasia or mercy killing is not murder as its opponents believe. Thousands of terminally ill patients lead horrible lives because they cannot take a decision on their agonising existence. They are forced to live in a PVS with the support of tubes and machines. I am quite sure that anyone in Aruna's state would have preferred death, given an option. It is, in fact, unethical and even cruel to force a person to live in such horrible conditions.

The idea of a doctor ready to pounce on his terminally ill patients to murder them at the drop of a hat is ridiculous. What euthanasia supporters say is have a team of doctors, psychiatrists and relatives and take a decision on the fate of the patient. Euthanasia is a just cause.

K.M. Divakaran,

Kannur

A person who is in a PVS endures tremendous pain and suffering. Pinky Virani's plea to end Aruna's suffering should, therefore, not be perceived as unethical or inhuman. The King Edward Memorial Hospital staff have shown the highest degree of humanity by taking care of Aruna for 37 years, for which perhaps they deserve even the Nobel. Similarly, making a plea to end somebody's suffering is also a great human quality. It should also be respected with an open heart and mind.

Raghu Prasad P. Halakere,

Koppal

I am probably one of the few who do not agree with the Supreme Court's judgment on Aruna Shanbaug. Of course, the staff of the KEM hospital deserve all praise for having taken such good care of Aruna all these years. But it is also true that she was one of them and the tragedy happened in the hospital.

The trouble they have taken for 37 long years has been an exercise in futility. What purpose has been served by keeping Aruna ‘alive?' She has been a vegetable all these years and might remain so for another 10 or 20 years. Ms Virani who wanted to save her from this fate which is worse than death is her true friend. Let us ask ourselves whether we would want to ‘live' like Aruna in a hospital ward.

Vathsala Vijayakumar,

Chennai

Ms Virani deserves praise for her effort. But for her initiative, a very significant legal, social, medical and, above all, moral issue would not have received such wide attention.

Priti Saxena,

Lucknow

The Supreme Court has rightly brought up the issue of deleting Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (attempt to commit suicide). A person who decides to commit suicide is emotionally charged. Those who fail in their attempt to commit suicide need somebody who can listen and share their feelings, not punishment. Civil society should view their plight more sympathetically.

The judiciary has initiated the debate. The media and civil society should take it forward. The government should also take necessary steps in that direction.

Swetha Nandyala,

Hyderabad

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