Andhra woman seeks mercy killing for paralysed son

Andhra woman seeks mercy killing for paralysed son

Unable to take care of her invalid son due to poverty, a 64-year-old woman in Andhra Pradesh has sought euthanasia for him -- a 36-year-old graduate in aeronautical science.

Representative purpose only

C. Janardhan, the son of farm workers, had got a job offer from abroad and was preparing to go to Australia in 1977 when he was left an invalid in a road accident.
 Lakshmamma, a widow in Chittoor district, has filed a petition in a court at Madanapalle, seeking mercy killing for him, who is in a vegetative state for the past 15 years.

The woman told the court that with her meagre widow's pension of Rs.500 she was unable to meet the medical expenses of her bedridden son who suffered brain damage in a road accident.

She said her husband died eight years ago due to helplessness and frustration after seeing their son's plight.  "I don't know who will take care of him after my death. I can't see him suffer any longer. If my son gets mercy killing, I can die in peace," she said in the petition.

The court Monday admitted her petition for hearing and issued notices to the district collector and health department, asking them why the government can't extend medical help to Janardhan.

Second additional district judge Sumalatha, however, said the plea for mercy killing was unacceptable. She said nobody has a right to take another's life. The next hearing will be held March 3. Lakshmamma, a resident of Danduvaripalle village, said she tried in vain to get government assistance to meet the medical expenses of her son.

Despite working in the fields throughout the day, the woman is not earning enough. With her failing health, she is worried about her son's future. Janardhan did his engineering in aeronautical science.

After receiving a lucrative job offer in Australia, he was on his way to Bangalore for a visa when he was knocked down by a truck -- in 1977. Janardhan, who sustained serious head injury, was in coma for five years but recovered partially. His mother said he can't speak, and both his legs and hands are paralyzed.

Lakshmamma and her husband Chandrappa spent all their savings and even sold their one acre land and household items to take of Janardhan. After Chandrappa's death in 2003, Lakshmamma has been struggling to look after her son.

This is perhaps the first incident in the state in which a woman has moved a court seeking mercy killing for her son due to financial constraints. In 2004, a woman had moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court seeking mercy killing for her son K. Venkatesh, who had debilitating muscular dystrophy, so that his wish of donating his vital organs could be fulfilled.

The court rejected her petition on the ground that the present laws did not permit euthanasia and human organs could be harvested only from a brain dead patient.  Venkatesh died the same year. His mother Sujatha now works to help muscular dystrophy patients.