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A Supreme Court decision close home


Being argumentative and opinionated (like most Indians), I would not let a major political, economical or social development go by without discussing the issue at an enervating length with likeminded friends.

On Monday this week, the Supreme Court of India in its landmark decision ruled against mercy-killing for Aruna Shanbaug, who suffered a massive brain damage due to a violent sexual assault almost 37 years ago.   The activist journalist who visited her in the hospital felt Ms. Shanbaug was ‘brain dead’, and petitioned for ending her life.  The hospital staff of KEM (King Edward Memorial Hospital), Mumbai who have nursed her for all these years however think her as not vegetative and brain dead.  Ms. Shanbaug is said to respond to touch, food, and music.

The time frame and magnitude of our father’s condition and that of the others we have seen and heard about in the hospital doesn’t come anywhere close for comparison with Ms. Shanbaug’s situation.   I do however know that even a small tremor of a limb or an eye ball movement in a patient can be a source of ecstasy for the family.   None of the families I know, much as the uncertainty of their patient’s regaining consciousness, would prefer death over a limp, doll like body.   For low income families with such patients and soaring medical bills, the agony am sure is manifold.  If infection or lack of treatment does not get the patient first, then yes, "passive" euthanasia (as per the Supreme Court decision) might be a heart wrenching option.

Well, yes, I do think it was a landmark decision and putting the details aside, I do agree with the Supreme Court’s decision on euthanasia.   Reading about it sitting next to my semi conscious father, I had no inclination to discuss the issue with anyone, not even with a journalist friend who was covering the decision from the Supreme Court.  

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