01/08/2009, 00.00
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Kerala: Communists pushing euthanasia bill, Church calls it electoral propaganda

by Nirmala Carvalho
The Marxist-leaning government wants to legalise euthanasia and decriminalise attempted suicide. Bill would allow patients to choose between continued treatment or letting themselves die. Catholic Church slams the bill as a “new attack against life.”
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The legalisation of euthanasia and the decriminalisation of attempted suicide are before Kerala's Law Reforms Commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge V.R. Krishna Iyer. They are part of a draft bill, the Kerala Terminally Ill Patients Act.

“Life is sacred, but intense pain with no relief in sight is a torture which negates the meaning of existence,” said the commission set up by the Marxist-leaning Left Democratic Front-ruled State government.

Should it be approved by the legislature of Kerala, a state in southern India, the draft law would allow “terminally ill persons to put an end to their life under the supervision and advice of close relatives and medical practitioners.”

The proposed law would also give ‘competent patients’ the right to refuse treatment, including breathing machines.

If patients are incapable of making an informed decision, or have not taken an informed decision, medical practitioners can evaluate what treatment to offer, or decide to withhold it altogether.

Fr Paul Thelakat, editor-in-chief of the influential journal Satyadeepam (Light of Truth) and spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Synod, did not mince words. For him the draft bill is electoral propaganda for the Marxist party.

He is dead fast against euthanasia “because no one has the right to take life, not even the patient who wants it.”

At the same time Father Thelakat said he is against extreme medical care or relentless treatment which violates a patient’s dignity and does not respect his or her suffering.

Pascal Carvalho, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, slams unequivocally this “grave attack on life” which must “be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

“No one can assume the right to decide on matters of life and death,” he said. 

For him it is sad that Kerala, a state with one of the highest literacy rates (89.9 per cent) in the country and one of the most developed, should lead the charge in favour of a law that would legalise euthanasia.

He understands why “those who suffer and their loved ones” might be tempted to end it all, but insists that there is a “great difference between purposely killing someone and allowing a person to die peacefully with dignity, while maintaining the ordinary means of health care.”

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