Euthanasia: About the Right to Choose My Death
Euthanasia: About the Right to Choose My Death
  • 김하늘 기자
  • 승인 2024.06.24 15:01
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 With the advent of an aging society, interest in euthanasia as a way to alleviate human suffering is on the rise. It has emerged as an important issue, symbolizing respect for individual dignity and freedom. Euthanasia involves administering appropriate medication under a doctor's prescription to allow a person to pass away naturally. Through this method, patients suffering from severe illnesses, injuries, or chronic pain can find a comfortable solution when their suffering becomes unbearable. Additionally, euthanasia can relieve the burden of the patient's family members, who watch their loved one endure the end-of-life process, helping them to say their farewells with a lighter heart. It also offers patients the opportunity to experience a dignified death.

 The history of euthanasia goes back a long way. In ancient Greece and Rome, euthanasia was often permitted. For example, the Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato argued that it is humane to allow euthanasia when people suffer from debilitating diseases to the point where they lose control over their own bodies. This concept was intertwined with the belief in the immortal soul. During the medieval period, euthanasia was prohibited with the advancement of Christianity. According to Christian doctrine, human life belongs to God, and only God has sovereignty over life and death. As a result, euthanasia is deemed a sin and is prohibited both ethically and legally. From the late 20th century onwards, euthanasia began to receive renewed attention. With advancements in medical technology leading to the prolongation of life for individuals suffering from diseases or disabilities, euthanasia was reconsidered as an option to alleviate suffering.

 In Korea, there hasn't been any legislation proposed to actively allow euthanasia, which shortens life intentionally. On January 8, 2016, the National Assembly passed the "Act on Hospice-Palliative Care and Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment Decision-making," legalizing the discontinuation of life-sustaining treatment. However, this law only permits passive euthanasia, specifically allowing the cessation of futile life-sustaining treatment for patients in irreversible comas.


Support for Euthanasia: Ensuring Individual Rights- Kim Ji-hyun

 There are many people who are in favor of euthanasia for several reasons. Let’s listen to their perspectives regarding this issue. 

 The first reason is individual rights. According to Article 10 of the Korean Constitution, all citizens have human dignity and worth as a human and the right to pursue happiness. Additionally, the nation has a duty to recognize and guarantee the inviolable fundamental human rights of individuals. Euthanasia is viewed as a means of upholding an individual's basic freedoms and autonomy. Individuals have the right to make decisions about their own lives and deaths, and these decisions can be influenced by various factors, including religion, moral values, and the meaning of life. Euthanasia offers an option to make the final decision based on one's own will, providing the right to choose how to end one's life.

 The second reason is pain relief and medical ethics. Euthanasia often provides an important medical and ethical option for patients experiencing suffering. Terminal cancer patients and those with chronic illnesses often endure severe pain and discomfort. In line with the goals of euthanasia, doctors and patients can carefully consider and decide how to alleviate pain while allowing for a dignified death. This decision takes into account the patient's comfort and the ethical aspects of medical care. There are various countries that allow euthanasia, and in these countries, euthanasia is legalized either partially or entirely. Notable examples include the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Canada. In Switzerland, patients can request euthanasia from a doctor on their own, but other countries have strict standards and procedures for carrying out euthanasia.

 The third reason is the alleviation of the suffering and burden on family and friends. Watching a loved one suffer can be emotionally devastating. Euthanasia can ease the emotional burden on the patient and family, allowing families to be present and supportive as the patient makes their choice. This is a choice filled with love and compassion, and it allows the patient and family to maintain a strong bond.


Opposition to Euthanasia: Concerns about the Abuse of Euthanasia- Kim Ha-neul

 Unlike the perspectives of those in favor of euthanasia, many people are opposed to it due to the following reasons.

 The first reason is the dignity of human life. Some individuals emphasize the value and dignity of life, viewing the deliberate decision of death as a disregard for human life. The people against euthanasia argue that human life should be protected. They think euthanasia might severely diminish the value of life and undermine human dignity if individuals were allowed to determine the end of their own lives.

 The Supreme Court rulings also emphasize that the right to life should not be violated. Thus, condoning mechanisms like euthanasia, through which life can be intentionally ended by oneself or others, would be in violation of various existing laws, including the Constitution.

 The second reason is the concern that euthanasia could be abused or misused for criminal purposes. Euthanasia could potentially be utilized as a mechanism for delegating property, and transferring business ownership or inheritance, among other examples. Indeed, cases where individuals expedite the death of family members for financial gain continue to be reported in the news. Even today, such incidents occur. If euthanasia is permitted, there is a risk that unethical doctors may engage in criminal activities, such as accepting bribes from patients' families, transferring property, seeking revenge, or obtaining management rights. This could result in a rise in family conflicts over inheritance. In such cases, especially vulnerable groups like the elderly or disabled might be pressured into choosing euthanasia, leading to socially unjust outcomes.


 We have outlined popular arguments for and against euthanasia. As we have looked over so far, the social position on euthanasia continues to develop. Then, what is your stance? I believe it is time for us to reflect on how to address this issue for the benefit and happiness of both the patients and the family members.


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