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Local doctors favor more ``humane`` euthanasia

Posted April. 25, 2001 18:46,   


The Korean Medical Association (KMA) has tentatively proposed a set of guidelines in favor of a more ``humane`` euthanasia as an option for terminally ill patients, to be administered with the consent of the patients, their relatives or doctors.

According to the KMA, medical ethics guidelines have been drafted to allow doctors to accept a written request of relatives to terminate medical treatment or to decide on withholding or canceling what may seem futile medical attempts. The draft is to be presented before the KMA general assembly on Saturday.

The association said most of its members polled agreed to such mercy killing on the ground that the guidelines strictly prohibit less ``humane`` euthanasia using artificial methods such as lethal injection. Thus, it could adopt the draft of guidelines without much controversy, it said.

However, a few medical practitioners voiced out their reservations since they think a more ``humane`` euthanasia might constitute a crime of commissioned manslaughter or assisted suicide.

Health and welfare ministry officials said a process of building a social consensus would be necessary, taking into account the popular sentiment before a more ``humane`` form of euthanasia can be introduced.

Song Sang-Keun songmoon@donga.com