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Jack Kevorkian Dies at Age 83

 
 
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2011 10:01 am
Quote:
Jack Kevorkian, the audacious, fearless doctor who spurred on the national right-to-die debate with a homemade suicide machine that helped end the lives of dozens of ailing people, died Friday at a Detroit-area hospital after a brief illness. He was 83.


What is your "take" on Kevorkian? Do people have the right to assisted suicide? If you had a serious illness, would you want to take your own life? Would you want assistance in your suicide, or would you rather do it yourself?



http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110603/ap_on_en_ot/us_obit_kevorkian
 
mags314772
 
  3  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2011 10:28 am
@Phoenix32890,
Sorry, Phoenix. I did not see your post. If I had a terminal illness (which I sort of do...Parkinson's) and I became incapacitated, I would certainly want the same mercy I afford my animals when they are beyond hope, I think he was a crusader
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2011 10:48 am
@mags314772,
If you read a bit more deeply about the man and his personality (and even his own art), you'll see quite a darker side to this man.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Jack_Kevorkian

IMHO, the political cause to which he dedicated the latter part of his life was right cause. It is a cause whose time had come to raise the consciousness of the civilized world. However, the man was the wrong messenger for it. He was an oddly flawed man who often times set this important issue political movement back with his methods and actions.
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2011 10:52 am
He was a good balance to what doctors try to do in saving lives when in fact there is no hope for quality or quantity.

Many family members will tell doctors to save their loved one even when the prognosis is not good.
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2011 01:04 pm
@Ragman,
Quote:
If you read a bit more deeply about the man and his personality (and even his own art), you'll see quite a darker side to this man


I agree. I think that Kevorkian had his own agenda, that had nothing to do with kindness to a dying person. But, IMO, that is besides the point.

In our society, we put an ailing pet, "out of its misery". Yet, we will allow a person who has little quality of life to linger on and on, often in great pain and pitifully little dignity.

I realize that there are many ramifications to legally assisted suicide, which need to be addressed before it is even considered. Kevorkian's legacy though, is that he opened up a dialogue of the subject, that was heretofore spoken about only in whispers.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2011 01:37 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:

Many family members will tell doctors to save their loved one even when the prognosis is not good.


I've seen that so many times. Causing so much suffering.
0 Replies
 
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2011 01:44 pm
@Phoenix32890,
Agreed! For that reason alone (quality of life and death with dignity), Dr. Kevorkian should be praised.

Where the issue gets muddy and hard to determine what the 'right thing to do' is when someone who is seriously ill but is NOT terminal. It is hard to determine what is to be done when their quality of life is so shitty that they wish with their whole soul to diebecause there's no hope of thjeir life getting any better. How should society help them to ease their way out of this world? What's right for them and their family and within the law?
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jun, 2011 06:05 pm
radio guys opie and anthony always make fun of the stupid sentiment, "he died doing what he loved best", but today one of their listeners (cokelogic), had a great tweet, " jack kevorkian died doing what he loved best, dying"
0 Replies
 
jcboy
 
  3  
Reply Sat 4 Jun, 2011 07:43 am
@mags314772,
Quote:
I would certainly want the same mercy I afford my animals when they are beyond hope, I think he was a crusader


Having been through it with both my mother and father, I totally agree...although they left this life knowing they were loved, they suffered far too long.
0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 11:56 am
@Ragman,
Quote:
IMHO, the political cause to which he dedicated the latter part of his life was right cause. It is a cause whose time had come to raise the consciousness of the civilized world. However, the man was the wrong messenger for it.

That about sums up how I felt about Kevorkian.

It is certainly an issue which should be discussed, but it also deserves consideration of all the ethical and moral and social issues surrounding physician assisted suicide, many of which, I think, Kevorkian seemed to just brush aside. While wanting to end suffering is a worthy cause, Kevorkian personally expressed no appreciation or reverence for life (he said in an interview that, given a choice, he would not have opted to be born) and I personally found his relish for helping to deliver death more than a little creepy.

The first person whose suicide he assisted suffered from Alzheimer's. Is that the sort of patient a physician should help to die? I'm personally not sure about that.
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 12:20 pm
@firefly,
Quote:
The first person whose suicide he assisted suffered from Alzheimer's. Is that the sort of patient a physician should help to die? I'm personally not sure about that.


I am ambivalent on that issue. On the one hand, Alzheimer's is one of the most devastating diseases, not only for the patient, but for the caregivers.

On the other hand, one of the things that I believe is most important is that the sick person gives consent to the assisted suicide, which, at the latter stages of the disease, is impossible.

I would expect that it would be reasonable for people with the mental capacity sign a paper giving permission for assisted suicide, when he is well, BEFORE a disease takes away the ability to consent. This is already done in the case of a Power of Attorney, or Health Care Surrogate papers.
0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 08:13 pm
Another take on Dr. Kevorkian.
Quote:
The New York Times
June 5, 2011
Dr. Kevorkian’s Victims
By ROSS DOUTHAT

The case for assisted suicide seems to depend on human sympathy — on the impulse toward mercy, the desire to ease what seems like pointless pain and suffering. Why shouldn’t the terminally ill meet death on their own terms, rather than at the end of prolonged agonies? Why shouldn’t the dying depart this earth with dignity, instead of enduring the inexorable stripping away of their physical and mental faculties?

Such are the sentiments that made Jack Kevorkian, who died last week of natural causes, a hero to many millions of Americans. Though he was tried repeatedly and finally convicted of second-degree murder, the former pathologist’s career as “Dr. Death” (he said he assisted at more than 130 suicides) was widely regarded as a form of humanitarianism rather than a criminal enterprise.

But if such sentiments are understandable, they are morally perilous as well. We do not generally praise doctors who help dispatch their terminally ill patients, as Kevorkian repeatedly and unashamedly did. Even when death is inevitable and inevitably painful, it is not considered merciful to prescribe an overdose to a cancer victim against her will, or to gently smother a sleeping Alzheimer’s patient.

The difference, of course, is that Kevorkian’s clients asked for it. That free choice is what separates assisted suicide from murder, his defenders would insist.

But this means that the moral case for assisted suicide depends much more on our respect for people’s own desire to die than on our sympathy for their devastating medical conditions. If participating in a suicide is legally and ethically acceptable, in other words, it can’t just be because cancer is brutal and dementia is dehumanizing. It can only be because there’s a right to suicide.

And once we allow that such a right exists, the arguments for confining it to the dying seem arbitrary at best. We are all dying, day by day: do the terminally ill really occupy a completely different moral category from the rest? A cancer patient’s suffering isn’t necessarily more unbearable than the more indefinite agony of someone living with multiple sclerosis or quadriplegia or manic depression. And not every unbearable agony is medical: if a man losing a battle with Parkinson’s disease can claim the relief of physician-assisted suicide, then why not a devastated widower, or a parent who has lost her only child?

This isn’t a hypothetical slippery slope. Jack Kevorkian spent his career putting this dark, expansive logic into practice. He didn’t just provide death to the dying; he helped anyone whose suffering seemed sufficient to warrant his deadly assistance. When The Detroit Free Press investigated his “practice” in 1997, it found that 60 percent of those he assisted weren’t actually terminally ill. In several cases, autopsies revealed “no anatomical evidence of disease.”

This record was ignored or glossed over by his admirers. (So were the roots of his interest in euthanasia: Kevorkian was obsessed with human experimentation, and pined for a day when both assisted suicides and executions could be accompanied by vivisection.) After his release from prison in 2007, he was treated like a civil rights revolutionary rather a killer — with fawning interviews on “60 Minutes,” $50,000 speaking engagements, and a hagiographic HBO biopic starring Al Pacino.

Fortunately, the revolution Kevorkian envisioned hasn’t yet succeeded. Despite decades of agitation, only three states allow some form of physician-assisted suicide. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous 1997 decision, declined to invent a constitutional right to die. There is no American equivalent of the kind of suicide clinics that have sprung up in Switzerland, providing painless poisons to a steady flow of people from around the globe.

Writing in The Atlantic three years ago, Bruce Falconer profiled one such clinic: Dignitas, founded by a former journalist named Ludwig Minelli, which charges around $6,000 for its ministrations. Like Kevorkian, Minelli sees himself as a crusader for what he calls “the last human right.” And like Kevorkian, he sees no reason why this right — “a marvelous possibility given to a human being,” as he describes it — should be confined to the dying. (A study in The Journal of Medical Ethics suggested that 21 percent of the people whom Dignitas helps to commit suicide are not terminally ill.)

But unlike Kevorkian, Minelli has been free to help kill the suicidal without fear of prosecution. In the last 15 years, more than 1,000 people have made their final exit under his supervision, eased into eternity by a glass of sodium pentobarbital.

Were Minelli operating in the United States, he might well have as many apologists and admirers as the late Dr. Death. But it should make us proud of our country that he would likely find himself in prison, where murderers belong.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/06/opinion/06douthat.html?_r=1&hp
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 09:26 pm
@firefly,
Thanks for posting this thought-provoking viewpoint.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 09:46 pm
@firefly,
I believe this is another matter of others trying to control the lives of others; it's wrong. If any individual desires to terminate their life for whatever reason, they should have the right to die without others invasion of their choice.

What I find more interesting is that it's very easy to commit suicide; without the assistance from others. Why is having a "doctor" administer the right drugs to end life any different? It's their choice. Why force them to live a life they no longer desire?

What ever happened to free choice? The only caveat I would enforce is legal age.
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 10:31 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
If any individual desires to terminate their life for whatever reason, they should have the right to die without others invasion of their choice...
It's their choice. Why force them to live a life they no longer desire?

What about people who are mentally ill?
Quote:
Even if there is a right to self-determination which in turn implies a right to suicide, it seems to imply a right to commit suicide only when one's true self is making that determination, and there are numerous factors that may compromise a person's rational autonomy and hence make the decision to engage in suicidal behavior not a reflection of one's considered values or aims. (Cholbi, 23)...Depression and suicidal tendencies are strongly linked, and depression can cause “individuals’ attitudes toward their own death [to be] colored by strongly negative and occasionally distorted beliefs about their life
situations (career prospects, relationships, etc.)” (Cholbi, 2009, p. 24).
Cholbi, M. (2009). Suicide. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford
encyclopedia of philosophy.

Often, suicidal people, even those who make an attempt at suicide, decide immediately after that they do not actually wish to die. Studies of suicide attempts have shown that between 85% and 95% of those who attempt suicide and fail are still alive 15 years later (Greenberg, 1974). This statistic implies that at least a significant portion of the suicide attempters did not actually wish to
die, and would support the theory that allowing suicide infringes upon the
right to self-determination.
Greenberg, D. F. (1974). Involuntary psychiatric commitments to prevent
suicide. NYU Law Review , 49(3), 227-269.
http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:52aWwzJ66QkJ:https://www.stanford.edu/group/publicknowledge/cgi-bin/ojs/sts-journal/index.php/intersect/article/viewPDFInterstitial/197/101+is+attempted+suicide+grounds+for+involuntary+commitment&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjZYGLtygl3C6_qi_hoSFT28ei4oNKVp0qYElwvZAH0fBSB5yTYh7XSazMxN8mCXEcy6Ka9HGZZ-sPRcnhFzafK5977Eu8PVAgy-LWWfpHlXhGrG3B0YhNCJME_h9uFPMch6D7b&sig=AHIEtbSmx_ceFfnSU8svdMplmYDIxAKg8w
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jun, 2011 10:21 am
@firefly,
firefly, If the individual decides to end their life for any reason, why should "you" have control over what they want?
0 Replies
 
 

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