South Korea Court Did Not Allow Euthanasia, Despite Mainstream Media Reports

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 2, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Korea Court Did Not Allow Euthanasia, Despite Mainstream Media Reports

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 2
, 2008

Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — The Supreme Court of South Korea issued a ruling last week allowing the family members of a terminally ill woman to remove her feeding tube and take her off life support. Though the ruling opens up concerns for euthanasia, one bioethics watchdog says the media misreported the case.

The decision is opening up the Asian nation to concerns that the ruling could lead to assisted suicide or euthanasia, though the ruling itself didn’t legalize either practice.

But that’s not what the international AFP news agency reported.

According to its story: "A court on Friday approved a request for euthanasia for the first time in South Korea telling doctors to take a brain-dead woman off life support at her family’s request … The landmark ruling acknowledged an individual’s right to die for the first time here."

Wesley J. Smith, a California-based author and attorney, says that’s just not true.

"No it hasn’t. It authorized removal of a patient from life support–a very different thing," Smith says of the court’s decision.

"Two inapt terms leap off the page in this short quote [from the AFP story]," Smith explains.

"First, it seems the patient is unconscious, not ‘brain dead,’" Smith says.

"Second the issue is about whether life support can be removed from such people, not whether they can be actively killed. Sometimes life support is removed from people in a persistent vegetative state and they don’t die (unless that life support is food and fluids)," he added.

"These issues are international and need a consistent use of language and terms," Smith says. "Otherwise, we will have chaos rather than informed and rational ethical debates."

"Indeed, the language of bioethics at the popular level is already so muddled by sloppy language, rank redefinition, and euphemistic argument (‘aid in dying’) that engaging these crucial issues in the public square is already near the point of futility," he concluded.

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