December 16, 2004

Letter to the Paper XXXVII

India Uncut has no comments, but you can email the author. In an article on euthanasia Amit Varma remarks

Is the possible, or even probable, misuse of a law reason enough to be against it if the law itself is just? (After all, isn't every law misused in India?) Would that not be injustice to those who would legitimately benefit from the law if it existed, as Venkatesh and his family would?

I wrote a letter back arguing that euthanasia is not the answer, that even in life's final moments, there is value, there is teaching, there is something worth doing.

What is a law? What is the rule of law? Is it what you see in books or is it the reality of how the books interact with human beings? You ask whether a mercy killing law would be just. I have to say that it would not. I point to the case of US Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole. He was horribly wounded in WW II. If he had been wounded a year earlier, it would have been certainly understandable for him to ask for mercy killing. His wounds were extensive, impossible to cure, and he would have suffered a lot before succumbing to infection. The future Sen. Dole was one of the early experimental patients who received the miracle cure of penicillin. His subsequent contribution to US political life would have been snuffed out without a stubborn, even obstinate attachment to life.

The case you bring up in your blog of K Venkatesh is even more clear cut. Here is a talented man, already proven in your own society. Let him fight, let him use his talents, let him teach a last lesson in how to die. As a younger person who has been on the receiving end of such a lesson, let me tell you that it is a profound thing, to be with a man near his last moments, to silently urge him to live, live, come back one more time, give one more smile, tell one more story, win one more fight, and know, in the end, the battle was well fought to the last gasp of breath.

Society is robbed of such lessons in a euthanasia regime. I assure you, it is the poorer for it. If I have the fortune of someone who cares to receive such a lesson from me in my last days, I will do my best to be worthy of my audience.

Posted by TMLutas at December 16, 2004 01:40 PM