[Letters] Euthanasia is justifiedIn 2004, a Korean physician was arrested on a charge of murder. The doctor, an employee of Seoul National University Boramae Hospital, had practiced euthanasia. After that, other doctors feared being charged and refused to commit mercy killings.
Euthanasia was first legalized in the Netherlands. There, mercy killing was discussed to provide a last choice for those terminally ill patients waiting for their last breath. Euthanasia should be allowed in Korea as well, even if it takes fierce fighting among religious leaders, psychologists, legislative bodies and doctors to achieve it. Mercy killing would relieve the pain of patients kept alive only through their connections to machinery. The quality of one’s life is more important than the length of one’s life. Relying on machines to keep someone alive is merely forcing the patient to live longer even though his or her consciousness is dead. It harms human dignity by taking away the right to die humanely. When patients have the slimmest possibility of surviving, preventing incurable patients from being free from mental and physical pain is unacceptable.
Furthermore, mercy killing would lessen a financial burden imposed on a family. Medical treatment costs one’s family a great deal of money. According to the JoongAng Daily, 58 percent of money required for patients is spent in three months before the suffering patient passes away because various costly medical procedures are conducted when the patient is near death. Even though families know investing money is eventually of no use, they are just prolonging the patient’s life and suffering due to lack of legal choices.
Opponents claim that legalizing mercy killing would discourage patients from recovering, and essentially legalize murder committed by doctors and families. However, these worries can be satisfied through a properly written law. First of all, euthanasia would be prescribed only by a doctor. Moreover, the patient has to agree to the decision if he or she is conscious. Furthermore, a cancellation of euthanasia must be allowed at anytime. With these laws, an abuse of mercy killing will not occur.
Opponents argue that mercy killing is an act of murder because it depreciates human dignity. However, mercy killing benefits the patients and even others including families and doctors. If one really cares for the patient himself and his family, mercy killing should be allowed.
Park Hye-min, Dongguk University