Posts tagged with: jack kevorkian

Writing in the Detroit Free Press, reporters Joe Swickard and Pat Anstett describe the life and June 3 passing of Jack Kevorkian. Long before he made a name for himself as a “assisted suicide advocate,” Kevorkian was known to the nurses at Pontiac General Hospital in Michigan as “Dr. Death” for his bizarre experiments.

Death came naturally to the man who’d vowed he’d starve himself rather than submit to the state’s authority behind bars. “It’s not a matter of starving yourself in jail, it’s a matter of I don’t want to live as a slave and imprisonment is the ultimate slavery,” he said in 1998.

In that same year, Rev. Robert A. Sirico wrote “Terminal TV” for the New York Times in which he examined Kevorkian’s “twisted rationale, one that overlooked the reality that the ethic of life is the precondition of the freedom to choose.” Rev. Sirico also cited Kevorkian’s threat to starve himself, which turned out to be empty bluster.

The most immediate question is, What should be done with Dr. Kevorkian? Earlier this month Michigan voters overwhelmingly rejected an amendment that would have legalized assisted suicide. The law offers no protection for Dr. Kevorkian. Recognizing this, he has invited the authorities to arrest him, in which case he promises to starve himself.

Former Oakland County (Mich.) prosecutor David Gorcyca told Detroit television station WXYZ that he admired Jack Kevorkian “for his commitment to his controversial crusade.” However, Gorcyca said that if “Dr. Death” realized how sick he was himself, it was “hypocritical” not to use assisted suicide to end his own life.

“I always thought some day, when he gets near the end, he’s going to videotape it and he’s going to end his own life and he’s going to air it for the world to see,” Gorcyca said.

WXYZ reported that Kevorkian died early Friday morning at a Royal Oak, Mich., hospital. “Friends say he passed away peacefully, to the sounds of his favorite classical music,” the station said.

Read Rev. Sirico’s “Terminal TV.”

Blog author: mvandermaas
Sunday, June 3, 2007
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The pro-assisted suicide movement always couches its argument in terms of “compassion” and “choice,” downplays the word “suicide,” and breezily dismiss any counter arguments about the (very real) slippery slope that will accompany the legalization of the practice. For example, here’s a section from the FAQ of the Compassion and Choices website:

The slippery slope argument hypothesizes that legal aid in dying will lead to forced euthanasia. Slippery slopes are precarious situations that one step logically necessitates subsequent steps. This does not define aid in dying, which is always dependent upon one individual. That said, we recognize that any law is subject to abuse, which is why the Oregon law and other proposed legislation have built-in safeguards.

The breezy dismissals are a little harder to swallow when reality looks like this:

Prosecutors are calling for tougher regulations on Switzerland’s assisted suicide clinics after uncovering evidence that some of the foreign clients they help to die are simply depressed rather than suffering incurable pain.

The clinics, which attract hundreds of foreigners, including Britons, every year, have been accused of failing to carry out proper investigations into whether patients meet the requirements of Switzerland’s right-to-die laws.

In some cases, foreign clients are being given drugs to commit suicide within hours of their arrival, which critics say leaves doctors and psychologists unable to conduct a detailed assessment or to provide appropriate counselling.

I don’t know; is suicide cheaper and more effective than, say, Paxil or Cymbalta?

Let’s face facts: when you deny that human life has intrinsic value from start to finish, and substitute the idea of “quality of life” as the sole determining factor as to whether someone can live or take their own life, you’re marching full tilt down a path that leads to people killing themselves to avoid the pain of a completely treatable condition – and worse.

Why is this man smiling?

Assisted suicide crusader Dr. Jack Kevorkian is out of prison as of this morning. For a good recap on who Kevorkian is, what he proposes for society, and just how creepy the man really is, I encourage you to check out Wesley Smith’s article at National Review Online. A sample:

…most of Kevorkian’s “patients” were not terminally ill, but disabled and depressed. Several weren’t even sick, according to their autopsies. Moreover, Kevorkian never attempted to treat any of the 130 or so persons who traveled to Michigan to be hooked up to his suicide machines to die either by drug overdose or carbon monoxide poisoning.

And as for compassion — forget about it. Kevorkian was never in the killing business to alleviate unbearable suffering. Indeed, over the course of decades he repeatedly explained his ultimate goals in professional journals and in his 1991 book, Prescription Medicide. As Jack Kevorkian articulately expresses it himself, compassion had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Kevorkian’s adulthood obsession has been to perform live human experimentation on people he was killing.

No doubt this event will bring the issue of physician assisted suicide to the forefront of our national dialogue for a time. I added my two cents to this debate almost two years ago and I don’t have much to add to what I’ve already said:

We hear a lot in our society about the importance of “death with dignity.” Often this phrase is used in the promotion of physician-assisted suicide by people who argue that those with terminal illnesses should have the right to “hasten their death” in the face of suffering. In so arguing, however, advocates of assisted suicide reinforce the idea that those who suffer have no intrinsic value as human beings that would cause society to favor sustaining their life; and as a result they strip those who suffer of any dignity at all. They seem to say that the terminally sick and aged have no inherent dignity – but it can be earned by choosing suicide.

The assisted suicide movement – like so many well-meaning “compassionate” efforts – fails because it does not recognize the inherent worth of every man, woman, and child. Dignity and value are not commodities that rise and fall on some moral market in response to the fluctuations of human frailty. They are intrinsic to what we are as humans. They are a part of our very nature, as real a part of us as the blood that flows in our veins.

These thoughts come to mind as I read of the passing of Dame Cecily Saunders, the founder of the modern Hospice movement. Her life’s work has allowed countless individuals to face the end of their life with some amount of physical comfort, often in their own home surrounded by their loved ones. There is a profound truth at the core of the movement that she founded: that dignity in death comes not through the act of dying, but through the act of living one’s life to the fullest until death.

You can read the full post here.

This post is dedicated to the memory of my father, my grandmother, and the other friends and loved ones now departed who demonstrated to me – in the midst of their suffering – the true nature of dignity at life’s end.

More: Jordan Ballor sent along links to three commentaries written by Rev. Robert Sirico in 1996 and 1998 on the topic of Dr. Kevorkian’s activities; they’re all well worth a read as well:

  • How About a Debate, Dr. Kevorkian? (October 26, 1996): “I am challenging Jack Kevorkian to a formal debate on assisted suicide. I’d like this debate to go beyond the legality or illegality of his practice, and even beyond the facts of the many cases of suicide in which he has assisted. These are the areas most critics concentrate on, whereas he and I both know that real issue here is the morality or immorality of the ‘right-to-die’ position itself, and the ethical implications of assisting people in exercising this supposed right.”

  • Kevorkian’s Moral Lapse in Right to Die (December 1, 1996): “The faxed response from Geoffrey Feiger reads: ‘”‘Keep your religious nose out of medical affairs,” says Dr. Kevorkian and me.’ I take from this that Dr. Kevorkian thinks people of faith–and 95 percent of Americans describe themselves as such–have nothing to contribute to the subject of medical ethics.”
  • Terminal TV (November 25, 1998): “What the man actually wants to legalize, it is now apparent, is the untrammeled right to pull the trigger on anyone he deems ready to die anyway – a step from ‘assisted suicide’ to outright medical homicide, an action that violates every code of medical ethics.”