This refers to the report on the Supreme Court allowing passive mercy killing subject to norms and the rejection of the plea for euthanasia to nurse Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug (March 8). The verdict has raised a debate on whether the Constitution provides the right to live at the cost of the right to dignity of life. Does the cumbersome procedure of euthanasia in any way help thousands of Arunas? A positive response to the question of voluntary/non-voluntary passive euthanasia may be necessary.
Arja Sri Radha Kanth,
The court's rejection of the petition for the mercy killing of Ms Shanbaug comes as no surprise. Euthanasia, also called assisted suicide, has been debated worldwide. Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances, while its passive form involves withholding or withdrawal of medical treatment. Only a small number of countries permit it. However, support for mercy killing is growing.
I would ask the staff of KEM Hospital not to be so harsh in their judgment of Pinky Virani, who has perhaps complete empathy with her friend, Ms Shanbaug. The inherent risk of misuse of mercy killing notwithstanding, to her nursing friends and to others who oppose it — I have only one thing to ask. For a fraction in time imagine yourself to be Ms Shanbaug. Sometimes mercy killing or assisted suicide may only be an extension of deep love, motivated only by an unselfish desire for your loved one to be free of terminal pain and to go in dignity and peace.
Dr. Anuradha Khanna,
The issue of passive euthanasia should be reconsidered as there are ethical and moral questions that need to be taken into consideration. Religious leaders should also be part of the deliberations as issues of life and death cannot be decided on legal and medical grounds alone. But in an age of “selfish self-centredness,” the response of Ms Shanbaug's colleagues is both moving and heart-warming.
Dr. Manoj C. Jacob,
The court did the right thing in rejecting the plea of Ms Virani. It is heartening that the court has also laid down the guidelines for euthanasia of patients in a permanent vegetative state considering that there are many other “Arunas” who do not have anybody to take care of them. Why can't such cases be decided by an empowered committee?
The Hindu's one-page coverage of the case and care of Ms Shanbaug is heart-warming. It reveals the other side of a public hospital, managed by a corporation. That it has looked after her for 37 years without a murmur makes one speechless. The Mumbai Municipal Corporation deserves warm praise for the concern it has shown to one of its own.
“She is ours, … no one can take her away from us” are the sweetest words one can hear this Women's Day. The nurses are the guardian angels proclaiming the dignity and value of life. It is a triumph of mercy over mercy killing.
I broke down after reading about the passionate service rendered by the KEM staff.
The infographic helped me learn about mercy killing. The picture of the nurses celebrating the court verdict drew tears of joy.
The overwhelming love and affection shown by the nurses infuse great hopes of humanity in us. KEM Hospital is one big family.
Pinky Virani listened to her head (reason), while the staff of KEM Hospital listened to their heart (emotion, love). It was Swami Vivekananda who remarked that while judging things, we must blend our head and heart.
The appeal for requests such as the one made by Ms Virani reminds me of Emerson's words: “Earth endures; Stars abide … But where are old men?” The judgment is the proof of humanity and has to be hailed forever.
The staff of KEM have restored my trust in the medical profession.
The court appears to have struck a sensible balance between the choice of the right to live and the right to die. The country is extremely proud of the nurses and other members of KEM for showing that health care without humanity is worthless.
Vasudevan and Priya,
I was an intern at the KEM Hospital in the 1980s in order to complete the “social welfare” component of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. I used to hear a brief wailing every afternoon and plucked up the courage, after a week, to ask a doctor whether someone was in distress. It was Ms Shanbaug, he said, and narrated her story. I was told not to go near her as she appeared to get distressed on hearing a male voice. I have often wondered at what happened to her. I got my happy answer yesterday.