Good afternoon to one and all
My name is Prerna Somani and I stand before you to speak in defence of the legalization of Euthanasia.
My fellow speakers have defined and redefined the concept of Euthanasia in words of great scholars as well as their own, so let’s not go into that anymore. Let us get to the crux of the issue – should Euthanasia by legalized or not? For one moment, dear friends and teachers, forget about the opinions of great scholars and examples of exceptions. Let us consider this motion at a very personal level because, god forbid, some day one of us would be lying on that sick bed – in purgatory, between life and death. In that moment, would you choose to die with dignity or stay alive and watch time and disease simply corrode everything you held dear?
How many of you have heard of Aruna Shanbaug? In 1973 she was sexually assaulted by hospital sweeper. It’s been 41 years and she still lies in that brain stem dead persistent vegetative state. 41 years, but no permission to die.
K. Venkatesh – 25 year old muscular dystrophia patient, a condition he was suffering since the age of 10; Wanted to be granted the right to die, so that he could donate organs before they were affected by his illness. Rejected.
Jeet Narayan of Mirzapur pleaded for euthanasia for his four young sons – all crippled and paralysed below the neck. Narayan wrote to the president of India, but his plea was rejected.
Alternative treatments are available, such as analgesic care and hospices which relieve the patient of almost all pain.
But is this just about the pain, my friends? Yes, there is tremendous physical agony in disease and disorder. But more than that, don’t we all have the right to live with dignity? If a sufferer feels a total loss of self-respect and poise and wishes to end his/her own life, who are we to stop them? Who is the Health Ministry to stop them? Is the Health Minister changing their bedpans or soiled clothes, or are you? Is the Parliament bringing them food and medicine according to their stringent diets, or are you? If none of us have any contribution in the sufferer’s care, how do we even get to debate on his desire to live or die?
Every week we have dozens of people filings pleas for Euthanasia, to what principle of life have we lost our sense of mercy and compassion? How much suffering will enough for us to invoke the Right to Die? Our Constitution guarantees the right to life. But how is the right to life is complete without the right to death? Don’t mistake this some lovelorn or stress-induced suicide, my friends. Mercy killing is a whole lot bigger and graver than that.
Allow me to draw parallels. How many of you have had fever and cold during the months of Summer? You don’t get to drink iced water or have ice-creams then, do you? The best thing about summer – ice creams, and you can’t have them because you’re sick. Imagine not being able to eat and drink what you feel like, for the rest of your life because you’re sick. Is that how anyone of you would want to live? Another example, how many of you’ve had fractures – where you weren’t allowed to move your hands or legs for a long time? Where you couldn’t walk, or drive, or dance, or play badminton till you were healed. How many of you’ve had major surgeries which required you to adhere to strict bed-rest for a fortnight or so? Where you required assistance everytime you wanted to visit the loo or wanted to eat something. Imagine not being able to move for the rest of your life – will it be even called living? And if a person who has suffered intensely due to such conditions wishes to end his/her pain, do we really get to deny them their peace? Do we get to say ‘no, you can’t die because people who have never experienced anything like your pain have just decided that you can’t die’?
I would request everyone who opposes legalization of Euthanasia today, to step into the shoes of a quadriplegic or a chronic paranoid schizophrenic with gangrene in both his legs or in the shoes of a patient with the Lou Gehrig’s disease. Step into their shoes for just a fortnight, experience life as they know it. Before opposing Euthanasia let us make an effort to understand why these people are so desperate to die.
On humanitarian, moral, and social grounds I firmly believe active Euthanasia should be legalized.
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