[특집논문] 존엄사의 올바른 법제화를 위한 토론회

주요국가의 ‘존엄사’법 분석과 평가


Comparative Study on Death with Dignity Law


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In many countries, the last decade has been marked by increasing debate about the acceptability and regulation of euthanasia and other end-of-life decisions in medical practice. Recently, there have been growing calls for the introduction of ‘death with dignity’, that will allow patients in terminal condition with a short life expectancy, or a permanent vegetative state, to have their life ended by doctors removing them from life-support. In reality, it is still illegal for doctors to remove life-support equipment from patients, whether they are terminally ill or not. There are no laws or regulations governing the right to ‘death with dignity’, as all the types of euthanasia are banned in South Korea. On May 21st, 2009, the Korea’s Supreme Court upheld a landmark ruling: allowing a family to remove life-sustaining equipment from a comatose patient that had no chance of recovery. According to the Supreme Court's ruling, given the overall evidence and condition of health, the patient's physician would be permitted to remove the life-sustaining support, which means the patient is in all intents and purposes already dead. Before falling into her coma, she said that she did not want to be kept alive with machines if there was no chance of recovery. Given this, we believe that she would also want the treatment to be stopped. In this condition, extending her life is meaningless and against her will of dying with dignity. The Supreme Court's ruling is expected to provide a fresh momentum for the move to make legislation to revise the Medical Law. With the court requesting guidelines on dealing with similar cases in the future, some doctors, civic groups and politicians are claiming that now is the most opportune to enact a law in respect to a person's right to choose ‘how to die’. They say unless a law is implemented, many similar lawsuits will be filed that will haunt doctors and families for years to come. This study was intended to describe and compare the legal procedures for notifying, controlling and evaluating euthanasia between natural death act model and physician assisted suicide act model. The first legislation model is 'living will act' model. In United States, The Karen Quilan case gave rise to legislative activity in the host of state capitals, and several states had adopted statutes that formally recognized some forms of written directives describing some circumstances in which certain kinds of medical care could be terminated. These statues were sometimes dominated 'living will' acts, sometimes 'right to die' acts and 'natural death' acts. Today most states have statutes on living wills. A living will commonly called an advance directives, is written expression of an individual's for future health care decisions. Usually the living will expresses intent to avoid prolonging life in terminal or permanently unconscious state, but the opposite intent can also be expressed. The second legislation model is 'physician assisted suicide act' model. The Oregon death with Dignity Act was passed in 1994 through the voter initiative process. Oregon state has explicitly made legal the option for a mentally competent, terminally ill patient to seek medications that he or she could consume to bring about death in a humane and dignified manner. On April 10, 2001, the Dutch parliament legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide, and on May 16, 2002, the Belgian parliament approved a law on euthanasia. Whereas in the netherlands euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are regulated as two possible end-of-life options, in belgium the law only regulates euthanasia. In both countries, any patient who requests euthanasia has to be well informed about their situation, namely, their diagnosis, outlook, and treatment options. In Korea, these lively dispute of legal policy on the preconditions and concrete procedure of living will act and natural death act. We should permit a terminally ill person to execute his or her own living will or advanced directives according to the definite procedure.


I. 들어가는 말
 II. ‘존엄사’법 입법 분류 : 안락사법, 자연사법, 의사조력자살법
 III. 생전유언법 내지 자연사법 입법에 대한 분석과 평가
 IV. 의사조력자살법 입법에 대한 분석과 평가
 V. 맺음말


  • 이인영 Lee, In Young. 홍익대학교 법과대학 교수


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