Legal Department argues patients should be given the choice in certain circumstances.
The Ministry of Health (MoH)’s Legal Department has once again proposed legislation to allow the terminally ill to end their lives, citing humane reasons. It is one of the proposals raised by the department in written comments submitted to MoH leaders regarding draft amendments to the 2005 Civil Code.
“Doctors receive many requests from patients with terminal diseases every day, to let them end their suffering,” Mr. Nguyen Huy Quang, Head of the Legal Department, told local media. “Those who live in a vegetative state or are in the final stages of cancer, suffering extreme physical and mental pain and wishing to die painlessly, should be given the right to die.” Meanwhile, doctors agonize over such cases as they cannot do anything to help their patients and can only watch them suffer until they die.
In 2005 a similar proposal was put forward at a National Assembly meeting but lawmakers rejected it, saying it was not the right time and that it would consider the matter later.
Even if legal permission was granted there are still a host of psychological and ethical barriers. Doctors would be very unlikely to help patients end their lives as they are still ethically bound by the Hippocratic Oath, Mr. Quang added.
He suggested that it should be a voluntary job for health workers or that there be a specialized team assigned. A few countries around the world have recognized the right to die, including the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland, as well as several states in the US.