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Euthanasia, Assisted Dying and The Right to Die

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The issue of euthanasia has been bloomed substantially when a destitute Bangladeshi, Tofazzal Hossain from Meherpur sought permission and sent a letter to the deputy commissioner of Meherpur to allow to euthanize his two sons and a grandson forasmuch they are diseased with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which is a rare disease and there is no medication. He had to take such a cruel decision as he lost all his property for their treatment and there is no way left to support them. It is an extraordinary case for a conservative country like Bangladesh where in fact no flexibility of palliative care/hospice care, even suicide is a crime and moreover people do not concern who will be going to take decisions while in life support. This sort of assisted suicide is impermissible both in secular law of Bangladesh and also in religious perspective as majority population is Muslim. Owing to our existing social, cultural and religious customs, Bangladesh still shows disinterest to speculate this matter. It is essential to note that people usually make misinterpretation between euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS).

Black’s Law Dictionary defines euthanasia as, “The act or practice of painlessly putting to death persons suffering from incurable and distressing disease as an act of mercy.” Generally, it construes that the physician, allowed by law, would act straightly, functioning as giving a lethal injection, to end the patient’s life, as long as the patient and their family agree. This can be done voluntarily with the consent of the patient, involuntarily when the patient apparently does not give any consent but is in a vegetative state likely never recover consciousness. Anyhow PAS differs from euthanasia, which is to equip the competent patient with prescription and the patient hereafter execute the lethal medication. Euthanasia or physician assisted suicide is unlawful in most of the countries around the world. Nevertheless, the attitude is changing and a limited progress is noticeable about the legalization of euthanasia and PAS in specie the western world.

The Netherlands came to be the first country legitimatizing euthanasia and PAS. Afterwards active or passive euthanasia has been legalized in Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, Canada and a short while ago on 7 March 2018 in India. As well as PAS has been permitted in Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, Japan, and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Montana, Washington DC and California. All these countries have altered the law forsaking their traditional minds to give fatally ill patients the right to die with doctors’ cooperation. The countries allow such mercy killing only if certain conditions are observed. For instance, whether the patient is adult or not, considering the patient’s physical and mental situation, consent of the guardian or witnesses, approval from doctors and so on. The law does not require the doctor be involved rather to generate the legal situation relaxed enough for an individual to take decisions on his own life and to get rid of such a painful and intolerable life.

In Bangladesh it is evil to think about legalizing euthanasia forasmuch as here even attempt to commit suicide is illegal and if he survives, under section 309 of the Penal Code 1860 is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both. Moreover, section 306 of the Penal Code 1860 stands in the Abetment of suicide- “If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” This much is clear, that the association with suicide is also blameworthy. Considering individuals’ bearings, the regulations of Bangladesh should change its viewpoint about taking a decision of one’s own life. Dealing with the case of Tofazzal Hossain’s sons, he wanted to exercise passive euthanasia as it was impossible to bear the cost for his sons’ betterment and also the disease was deadly. Now some will argue that the sons were sent to India for better treatment.

However, it’s impossible for Bangladesh to support every family with enough flexibility of Palliative Care/Hospice Care like Tofazzal’s. Besides in Bangladesh there is not enough flexibility of Palliative Care/Hospice Care; it is a form of medical care to provide treatment to patients who are incurably ill and to control their pain. Euthanasia is a remarkably controversial matter. It is obvious if someone is wrongfully euthanized who doesn’t want to die, it would be a murder. Sometimes a murder can be suppressed in the name of euthanasia and the law would be abused.

In many countries, euthanasia or PAS is illegal, but they are practicing all these may be in such alternative move like de facto in Bangladesh; it can be noticed that doctors pull the plug on life support of the patient with consent of a guardian, more than that sometimes it is not written rather mere verbal consent. At last, The Constitution of Bangladesh under article 32 ensures right to life per contra we actually do not get the liberty subject to take decision when it is about to end.

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