Legal and Moral Problems of Death and Dying
The article reviews principal provisions included in the criminal code enacted in 1970 which concern homicide and other acts of assault on human life. These enactments reflect the institutionally established system of evaluations with respect to human life. However, legislators have not formulated a general definition of the state of being alive and the state of being dead, which might have constituted the most logical point of departure for the formulation of particular laws concerning assaults on human life. The author is consequently of the opinion that criminal law would be of little help to physicians when they face difficult problems of conflict of the vital values.
The article emphasizes the need to create satisfactory living conditions for elderly people and bedridden persons. In his view these problems are of more practical importance, more widespread and more commonly encountered by the health service personnel than the question of sustaining life processes of an organism in the state of coma by making use of the rare instruments of contemporary medicine. The author draws attention to the fact that the formidable progress of medical sciences leads sometimes to a simplified optimism which leaves no room for a thoughtful program of emotional preparation for the fact that every man
has to die sooner or later. This prospect should be contemplated well in advance, when the thought of being dead is not yet so revolting.
The article ends with reflections on the different conceptions of death and dying in Christian and Marxist philosophies.