The Necessity of the Enactment of Patient Autonomy Act Concerning the Extension of the Right of Refusing Life-Sustaining Treatment
The enactment of Patient Autonomy Act (hereinafter“PAC”) enlarges the scope of current patient’s Right of Refusing Life-Sustaining Treatment (hereinafter“RRLST”). PAC presupposes the primacy of life protection thesis in the now-in-force legal system. As a result, existing laws does not accept RRLST at all or, at most, accept it in a very limited sense. On the contrary, the primacy of patient autonomy thesis claims that RRLST is firmly guaranteed in the current state of law and PAC is therefore superfluous. This article first analyses the status of RRLST in ethical and constitutional terms, then discusses the should-be interpretation of this right in existing laws in order to demonstrate that neither Medical Care Act nor Physicians Act recognizes RRLST. The so-called Physicians’ legal duty to provide urgent care would not be properly interpreted if it was construed only as compulsory for Physicians to have a civil-law like contractual-relationship with the patient. Furthermore, neither Hospice Palliative Care Act nor Patient Autonomy Act are just supplementary regulations concerning RRLST. As conclusion, the enactment of PAC is justifiable because there is no RRLST or, at most, only some in a very limited sense in existing laws and it is necessary to extend the scope of RRLST through PAC.