Patients at Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital. Photo: Nguyen Mi
The Ministry of Health's legal department has once again proposed legislation to let the terminally ill end their lives, citing humane reasons.
In 2005, a similar proposal was put forward at a sitting of the National Assembly, but lawmakers then rejected it, saying that it was not the right time.
Speaking to local media on Tuesday, Nguyen Huy Quang, head of the legal department, said although there are still "psychological and ethical barriers," the issue should be regulated in laws.
Those who live in a vegetative state, or are in the last stage of cancers, suffering extreme pain, both physically and mentally, and want to die painlessly should be given the right to die, he said.
In fact, every day doctors receive many requests from patients with terminal diseases to let them end their suffering, the official said.
Doctors, meanwhile, are agonized by the fact that they cannot do anything to help the patients, and can only watch them keep on living in pain until they die, he said.
"If the right to die is recognized, it will be an escape for patients."
"Legally speaking, we have the right to live. So, why not the right to die?"
However, even if being allowed to assist patients by laws, doctors will be very unlikely to help patients end their lives, as they are still ethically bound by their Hippocratic oath, Quang said.
He suggested that it should be a voluntary job for health workers, or there should be a specialized team.
Currently, a few countries around the world have recognized the right to die, including the Netherlands, and several states in the United States.