Korean Journal of Pediatrics 2009;52(8):843-850.
The change of perspective on brain death, euthanasia and withdrawal of the life supporting medical treatments in Korea for pediatric patients
Ivo Kwon
Law School, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea
국내외 뇌사,존엄사와 안락사에 대한 인식의 변화와 윤리 - 소아를 중심으로
이화여자대학교 법학전문대학원
Ivo Kwon, Email: kivo@ewha.ac.kr
A recent High Court's decision regarding the withdrawal of life supporting medical treatment (artificial ventilator) from an elderly female patient in the terminal stage has opened up a new era of the "euthanasia dispute" in Korea. With this decision, the legitimate withdrawal of life supporting treatment became possible under certain conditions and the Korean Medical Association is working toward the establishment of practical guidelines for the terminal-stage patients. However, there are still very few debates on the cases of pediatric patients in the terminal stage or suffering from fatal diseases. For pediatric patients, the core principle of autonomy and following procedure of "advance directives" are hardly kept due to the immaturity of the patients themselves. Decisions for their lives usually are in the hands of the parents, which may often bring out tragic disputes around "child abuse", especially in Korea where parents have exclusive control of the destiny of their children. Some developed countries such as the U.S.A., the U.K. and Canada have already established guidelines or a legal framework for ensuring the rights of the healthcare system regarding children suffering from severe illness, permitting the withdrawal of Life supporting medical treatment (LSMT) in very specific conditions when the quality of life of the children is severely threatened. For the protection of the welfare and interest of the children, we should discuss this issue and develop guidelines for the daily practice of pediatricians.
Key Words: Euthanasia, Life supporting medical treatment, Medical ethics, Legal dispute, Pediatric patients, Death with dignity

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