CBCK News

 CBCK News

 

Statement Against the Legislation of a Law on So-Called 'Dignified Death' Recognized as an Euthanasia

 

 

Nowadays there is a heated controversy in our society, caused by the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Korea in favor of the removal of the instrument for artificial respiration of a Mrs. Kim, who is de facto in a vegetative state. For all that the decision of the Supreme Court was not meant to put an intentional end to the life of Mrs. Kim, but to interrupt the meaningless treatment for prolongation of life, quite a few media and medical circles regarded it as a decision for a so-called 'dignified death', insisting that the removal of the instrument was the practice of the 'dignified death'. However, contrary to their intention, Mrs. Kim still survives with self respiration after the practice of a so-called 'dignified death'. We are struck dumb with astonishment by the reactions of our society to this situation: they are saying "Why is she still alive?" Facing up such a reaction, the Catholic Church in Korea is fully aware of the commitment to express her opinion on the recent controversy over the so-called 'dignified death', deploring the fact that the hitherto controversy has been intending to the euthanasia resulting in the intentional death of a patient.

 

1. We are against the legislation of the so-called 'Dignified Death Act', because the terminology of so-called 'dignified death', which is en vogue recently in our society, is just an embellished concept in favor of the euthanasia. By euthanasia "is understood an action or an omission which of itself or by intention causes death, in order that all suffering may in this way be eliminated" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Euthanasia, 1980, II), thus the critical criterion of the euthanasia should be the presence of the intention of death. Therefore, we can say that the so-called 'dignified death', heavily disputed in our society now, meant de facto the euthanasia resulting in an intentional death of a patient, since we witness some of medical circles and media, confused and skeptical about the survival of Mrs. Kim after the removal of the instrument for artificial respiration, regarding the decision of the Supreme Court as a cause for a 'dignified death'. Therefore we are sternly against the legislation of the law on 'dignified death', alias dictus the law on euthanasia.

 

2. We insist on the prudence of the public not to use the expression of 'dignified death' for the interruption of the meaningless treatment for prolongation of life. The usage of the expression of 'dignified death' is inclining to the intention of a death. They are using the expression of 'dignified death' as a camouflage to evade an ethical responsibility, even though they intend the death of a patient. In the end, the expression of 'dignified death' can cause a confusion to the public, since it can be misinterpreted as an approval of the euthanasia. Not a single action directly intending a death can be justified or legalized.

 

3. We respect the decision of a terminally-ill patient not to use the instrument for artificial respiration, even if he or she needs it as he or she cannot make sufficient respiratory effort on his or her own. The instrument may not be used in accordance with the previously manifested will of the patient. "When inevitable death is imminent in spite of the means used, it is permitted in conscience to take the decision to refuse forms of treatment that would only secure a precarious and burdensome prolongation of life" (Declaration on Euthanasia, IV). However, such a refusal should not be made with the intention of a preemptive death. The removal of the instrument for the artificial respiration means not the practice of a 'dignified death' with the intention of a death, but the interruption of the mechanical treatment of a patient for the prolongation of his or her life. Nevertheless, a terminally-ill patient should be treated with all proper medical cares, even if the instrument for artificial respiration is not in use. Artificial feeding and hydration belong to the basic medical treatments, which should be taken for granted.

 

4. We assert that the permission of the 'interruption of the treatment for the prolongation of life' in accordance with the will of the patient depends on his or her spontaneity of physiological function. It is against the nature that a terminally-ill patient should use an instrument for artificial respiration when he or she shows no sign of the recovery of self respiration. On the contrary, when a patient manifests a physiological function of ingestion and digestion, the artificial feeding and hydration are very natural treatments. In this regard, it doesn't matter whether the patient has a clear consciousness or not. We are strongly asserting that the artificial feeding and hydration should never be interrupted in such a context.

 

5. The true dignity for a patient in his or her final days comes from a peaceful death, accepting the inevitable death naturally. In other words, it is an inalienable principle for the respect of human dignity that a process of death must be in accordance with the nature. The interruption of the treatment with intention to death necessarily hinders a natural death, and thus deprives a human being of his or her dignity in its entirety. Therefore, our society will fall into the culture of death when such a interruption is supported by means of a law. In solidarity with all the people of good will, we will initiate an active campaign against the legislation of a law on the so-called 'dignified death' promoting the euthanasia.

 

 

July 8, 2009

 

+ Gabriel Chang Bong-hun

Bishop of Cheongju

President

Committee for Bioethics of the CBCK

No. Subject Date Views
494 Seoul Statement on ASEM Interfaith Dialogue 2009.10.09 8679
493 Seminar on the Reality and Vision of New Evangelization 2009.10.09 7515
492 Message for the 42nd Military Mission Sunday 2009.10.09 7573
491 Seminar on 'Aging Society and the Church' of the Committee for the Lay Apostolate 2009.09.25 7829
490 Dedication Ceremony of Kim Taegon Church Built within the Nonsan Military Training Camp 2009.09.25 10467
489 International Symposium Held to the Memory of Stephen Cardinal Kim 2009.09.25 12471
488 25th Anniversary of the Canonization of 103 Korean Martyrs 2009.09.25 9509
487 Seminar on “Women and the Communication in the Church” 2009.09.21 8873
486 Incheon Youth Day 2009 2009.09.21 9009
485 Pilgrimage on Foot by the Clergy in Daejeon Diocese 2009.09.21 11381
484 Reopening of the Museum of Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine 2009.09.21 11937
483 Approval of Some Documents Submitted to the Permanent Council of the CBCK 2009.09.21 7982
482 Installation Ceremony of the Coadjutor Archbishop of Kwangju 2009.09.11 8060
481 18th Plenary Meeting of the Biblical Apostolate Committee 2009.09.04 8955
480 Death of the Most Rev. John Choi Young-soo, Archbishop of Daegu 2009.09.04 7813
479 Centennial Anniversary Events of OSB Waegwan Abbey 2009.08.31 9593
478 A Great Researcher of the Church History in Korea Passed Away 2009.08.27 8071
477 New Coadjutor Archbishop of Kwangju 2009.08.27 8559
476 Appointed Bishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, auxiliary of Kwangju, Korea, as coadjutor archbishop of 2009.08.27 7825
» Statement Against the Legislation of a Law on So-Called 'Dignified Death' Recognized as an Euthanasia 2009.08.27 14247

CBCK News



XE Login