A Study on the Death with Dignity Bill
There is a growing conflict between physicians and terminally ill patients and their families; physicians wish to protect the sanctity of life and will everything in their means to save a life from death, while more and more terminally ill patients and their families sometimes wish to face death with dignity.
One of the very few certainties in life is that a human being will eventually pass on, and it is a universal desire for a person to die without pain. However, there is a huge controversy as to whether choosing to die by euthanasia or so-called "death with dignity" is a natural course of life or a universally accepted notion.
The medical profession and the academia have constantly debated on the foregoing issue, and the topic of debate was whether a terminally ill patient has the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment. A human being makes many decisions throughout one's life, however, a decision to refuse life-sustaining treatment in order to die with dignity, is clearly linked to the ultimate end of a human life, therefore, a matter of great sensitivity.
A recent Korea Supreme Court decision 2009 da 17417, which pertains to life-sustaining treatment and death with dignity (which some prefer to refer to as "passive euthanasia"), is a meaningful precedent in the sense that it established a new direction to help resolve social conflicts surrounding the issue of the treatment of a terminally ill patient. However, there is also a criticism that the decision did not contain sufficient discussion with regard to right to self-determination and right to life.
The issue of death with dignity requires a careful balancing of the right of self-determination, right to life, a state's duty to preserve human life. Not an easy task indeed.
After which, the issue would be whether a terminally ill patient's right of self-determination, is in reality recognized by medical professionals. There were several bills that were pending pertaining to the issue of death with dignity (e.g., death with dignity bill, right to face a natural death at the final stage of life bill, hospice and easing of medical treatment bill). Through this efforts of the legislation for the death with dignity, the dignity act was finally passed through January 8th Congress in 2016. This Act plans to be implemented from 2018 through the six months grace period, one year after promulgation.
In this paper, we seek to review the assessment and future direction for the legislation's death with dignity by examining the concept's dignity, outturn of the bill related to death with dignity since 2009.