In Taiwan, is euthanasia illegal?

In Taiwan, is euthanasia illegal?

I was shocked to read this story in the Taipei Times today, which implies that in Taiwan, it is illegal to let someone in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) die naturally (by removing a feeding tube or turning off a machine). It implies that in Taiwan, the law is that life must be prolonged artificially! Here is the article: … 2003248595

The thing that especially shocked me was this sentence:

But this quote is not from a government official. It’s from the Creation Social Welfare Foundation, which is an organization that sets up hospices all over Taiwan for the purpose of taking care of PVS patients. And of course, it is in their interest to persuade people to not let PVS patients die because if everyone decided to pull out all the feeding tubes of all the PVS patients, then the Creation Social Welfare Foundation would go bankrupt.

So after reading the article, now I’m confused about whether or not euthanasia is legal in Taiwan.

By the way, the article also says this:

This is completel rubbish! It’s extremely rare for any PVS patient to “wake up” because brain cells almost never regenerate. Once brain cells die, they are gone forever.

This reminds me of a movie with Robin Williams called “Awakenings” (1990), in which people who seemed to be in a PVS suddenly “woke up” when given certain medicine. That movie did incredible damage to the euthanasia movement in the U.S. because it falsely implied that PVS patients might one day “wake up”, and the movie said “Based on a true story”. But in actuality, the movie was based on a story of patients who were in a “catatonic state”, so they were actually not brain damaged at all. They were actually just paralyzed, so they couldn’t move any muscle in their bodies, but they were still completely “cognitively aware” (able to think). This is completely different from PVS patients such as Terri Schiavo.

Anyway, back to my original question: Is euthanasia legal or illegal in Taiwan?

A patient must be brain dead in order for it to be legal to take him/her off life support in Taiwan.

If youth in Asia were illegal, we wouldn’t have jobs.

But how can you prove whether a person is “brain dead”? For example, Terri Schiavo’s parents said that every time Terri moaned, she was trying to talk, but Terri’s husband and Judge Greer said that the moans were just involuntary reflexes.

I dont see what the problem is with euthenasia. Hell when iam useless and laying around waiting to die i would like the option to go when i want to go. Not lay around in a bed unable to eat or control my bladder and be looked after all day long. How is that living, what do you have to look forward to? If someone wants to die, i say we should let them. It is more humane to get Kevorkian to do it, than to slowly waste away to nothing.

But how can you prove whether a person is “brain dead”? For example, Terri Schiavo’s parents said that every time Terri moaned, she was trying to talk, but Terri’s husband and Judge Greer said that the moans were just involuntary reflexes.[/quote]
How is that relevant to this thread? Terri Schiavo was in Florida, where the law does not require the patient to be brain dead in order to take them off life support. As for proving someone is braindead, I believe that brain activity can be measured with and EKG scan. I don’t know how accurate that is, though.

I happen to be friends with a judge who is in fact the chief judge of the Pingdong County Courthouse. (His English name is Sullivan.)

I just called Sullivan and asked him what the law is in Taiwan regarding euthanasia. He told me that in Taiwan, the only form of euthanasia permitted is turning off a respirator for a patient who is not able to breathe by him/herself. But that can only be done if a neurologist claims in writing that the patient is “brain dead” and if the closest relative tells the hospital in writing to turn off the respirator.

On the other hand, if a patient is able to breathe without a respirator (as was the case with Terri Schiavo), then letting the patient die is not permitted. Feeding tubes are never allowed to be removed, and all machines other than respirators are never allowed to be turned off or unplugged.

The next time I call Sullivan, I’ll encourage him to become a member of this forum. I’m sure he could offer valuable input about the laws in Taiwan.

I’ve been brain dead for years but nobody has come around to pull the plug on me yet. Must be some sort of clerical mistake.

Bob, you had better form a club with Tigerman then, he pulled the plug once but is now back again. :laughing:

Euthanasia isn’t switching off a life support machine. It’s where someone perfectly compos mentis decides that they are suffering too much to go on living, and want someone to assist them in ending their life (or where they expressed that they would want to die prior to entering PVS).

It’s illegal in Taiwan of course, as well as just about everywhere else in the world. They experimented with making euthanasia legal in one of the Australian territories, didn’t they, but the law was repealed quite quickly.


Thanks for clarifying that I misused the word “euthanasia”. Also, please tell me the correct word which means letting a person in a PVS die by removing a feeding tube or turning off life-support machines.

I should modify what I said: prior to entering PVS, or prior to becoming NOT compos mentis.

I don’t think there is any special term, Mark, for the other type of situation (withholding life support measures). Looking in, “euthanasia” seems to cover this as well – but that’s really not my experience of the use of the word.