Dr. Jack Kevorkian Dies at 83; Backed Assisted Suicide

Discussion in 'The Study' started by Bill Mattocks, Jun 3, 2011.

  1. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/04/us/04kevorkian.html

    Some called him a hero, and some a devil. His claim to fame was that he was a doctor who advocated the right of patients suffering from terminal illnesses to choose to end their own lives, and of physicians to assist them at their request.

    I am not in favor of doctor-assisted suicide, or of suicide at all, but I am also not against doctors who wish to assist terminally-ill patients choose a means of painlessly ending their lives. It is against my religion, but for me, that means I will not choose suicide for myself if I were to find myself in such dire straits. I would not stop someone from doing it if that was their wish, and I'm not uncomfortable with doctors choosing to assist; I'm only against in the sense that I have a religious objection to it in general. If the laws were changed to allow it, I would not argue.

    Some have commented that in the end Doctor Kevorkian was a fraud and a hypocrite; he chose not to end his own life by suicide, but sought to prolong it as long as possible. I say that he was not a hypocrite at all. He never said that everyone should kill themselves, just that they should have the right to do so if they wished. He didn't want to. That doesn't make him a hypocrite in my book.

    My religion tells me that he will have to face Judgment with the stain of murder on his soul, because not only did he assist patients to kill themselves, but he did in one case pull the switch himself, even if it was at that patient's request. However, he also started a discussion that I think we very much needed to have as a nation.

    Twenty years after his acts that landed him in prison, we are faced with the same questions, and now we have the looming spectre of health care costs to factor into it; it gets even more complicated as government enters the picture.

    Some talk about medical 'death boards' deciding if grandma should live or die, but that's always been an oversimplification and and exaggeration. In the actual health overhaul law, it doesn't even exist, although some insist it does.

    But whether or not you support the idea of doctors being allowed to discuss end of life options that do not include intervention at all costs (which was was the concept actually was), most people will agree - if forced to - that there comes a time when the cost is no longer worth the benefit. Do they want grandma to live? Yes! However, what if it would cost a million taxpayer dollars to extend her life? What if it cost that for only another six months? What if it meant that for only a few weeks? Still worth it? What if the cost were ten million? Twenty million? All the old people everywhere who are sick and in the hospital, costing the taxpayer millions of dollars each PER DAY for an indefinite period of time? What if it were possible to keep people alive basically forever, so long as you were willing to hook them up to machines that do every single thing for them; so nothing was really up to them anymore. Just a brain in a useless body, trapped without any mean of movement or communication, and all functions handled by equipment costing millions of dollars a day to run, all taxpayer funded, and that person would essentially never die? Still worth it? Is there not a point where any sane person would say that's enough, no more?

    And if there is a point where a person is allowed to just decide that's it, no more treatment, are they not allowed to decide in what manner they will leave? Do they have to lay in bed and waste away in pain or buried under a mountain of drugs, slipping day by day away, until their bodies finally give up, or can they choose the moment they wish to leave when they can still sit up in bed and recognize family and say goodbye and then just go to sleep and not wake up? That's wrong somehow?

    Well anyway...

    Doctor Kevorkian is gone now. He did something, whether you think it was good or bad; he stirred debate. And in many ways, he was ahead of his time; we will be having this debate as we move more and more into a future of aging America and the Western world, where health costs spiral year by year and it starts to look like government-run healthcare is in everyone's future, like it or not. We will have to have these discussions at some point.
     
  2. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Well....here's where I'm a really bad Catholic.

    I don't have an issue with it. I don't have an issue with Dr. Kevorkian's work. I do have an issue with the church's stance on the matter for reasons that are deeper than disagreement.

    In my diocese, one can collect state-recognized paperwork for durable power of attorney for health care. This includes Do Not Resuscitate orders should one with to have such a thing in place, and guidelines as to when putting one in place is perfectly aligned with Catholic morals.

    The thugs that broke in to the Cates home on a night when David was away on a business trip, hacking Kimberly to death and slashing young Jamie's throat, leaving her to die, and not expecting her to bravely call 911 with her throat cut.

    That's murder. How can that be equivalent to the doctor that helps a crippled ALS patient die with what remaining dignity that he has left? What Dr. Kevorkian did was much closer to the DNR order than it was the brutal murder and maiming of human life that the Cates family had to endure.

    But under that same logic, Dr. Kevorkian, in ending (or helping to end) his patients lives and suffering, committed a greater skin than the slimeball that slashed Jamie's throat open. That is not something that I can personally accept.
     
  3. MA-Caver

    MA-Caver Sr. Grandmaster

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    Today I was talking with a lady who told me about a friend of hers. This friend had brain cancer that was treated successfully... but not for long. She just found out that it came back and that if untreated she'll have a month to live, treated means radiation therapy on her brain.
    I thought to myself... man... if it were me... I'd bag the therapy and find a good way to knock off... do everything that I CAN do (bucket-list) until I can't do it anymore and then ask a doc to give me something to peacefully pass on in my sleep. Either that or find the deepest cave pit nearest me ... rappel down about 20-30 feet and cut the rope... won't feel it when I hit the floor... what a way to go eh?

    I think that allowing a person to live on while they're suffering and everything humanly possible is being done to ease their pain isn't successful is cruel. Death row inmates get better deaths than that. Put to sleep and then injected with a lethal dose of whatever.
    Kevorkian should've never been put on trial. He, in my opinion was following his Hippocratic oath, particularly these lines... (bold type is mine)

    If Kevorkian did apply his practice with what the oath says then I don't think he was trying to play God.

    It is wrong to take a life but IMO much more wrong to let a life that cannot be helped any further to suffer longer than necessary, if nothing more can be done for that life in the realms and present technology of medicine as we know it today.
     
  4. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    It's an extention of the abortion debate, we either have a right to control our own body, or we don't.

    There can be no grey area.
     
  5. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I don't really see them as the same debate. One involves a person making a decision that affects a life other than their own.

    And I believe there is much gray area. For example, we do not permit people to 'control their own body' if they are minors. Nor in the military (in the US). Nor do we permit people to put anything they like into their bodies. There is a laundry list of things we do permit and don't permit with regard to people's control over their own bodies. Not so much black and white.
     
  6. Blade96

    Blade96 Senior Master

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    I support assisted help for terminally ill people seeking to end their suffering with some dignity. Its awful that society doesn't allow for that. I watched my white cat waste away from feline leukemia in 2009. Its a type of feline aids that behaves the same way and its victims waste away like people with human aids do. I am so glad we were able to give him a painless death with dignity. That, and seeing the deaths of my other two pets, helping give them a good end, helped me form my thoughts on assisted death. I think it very cruel to watch a human suffer away and not help them just because they're human. We treat our pets with more dignity.
     
  7. Cryozombie

    Cryozombie Grandmaster

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  8. Darksoul

    Darksoul Brown Belt

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    -When people are heck bent on keeping their loved ones alive, even though their time remaining is limited, and certainly if that person is ready to go, it isn't so much about that person but the people still living. Kinda like funerals, they're not really for the dead, they're for the living. I'm okay with assisted suicide. My girlfriend and I have made that committment to each other, cause neither one of us wants to be a vegetable or to see the other one suffer. Letting go is hard but I think being in a state suffering is much more difficult. Its not for everyone but I think the choice should be available.


    Andrew
     
  9. Sensei Payne

    Sensei Payne Black Belt

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    If my Dog had Cancer. And there was no way he would live. I would put him down.

    Why?

    Because I love my Dog, and I wouldn't want him to feel any pain.

    He is treated just like a family member. (As most family pets are)

    He can't even speak and I could tell what he wants...The Pain to go away.

    As Americans we should have the Freedom of choice. Doctors will tell you if there are no other options, and its all about "Pain Management"

    Agree with Jack or not...it really doesn't matter. If you belive in the Freedom of choice, you would NEVER block a person with such pain, from making it just go away.

    Just because its not the right choice for you, doesn't mean it isn't for someone else.
     
  10. yorkshirelad

    yorkshirelad Master Black Belt

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    No it's not. Abortion is the control of someone else's body. There is no equivalence between Kervokian advocating people having the right to take their own life to avoid, suffering and a woman ending the life of her unborn child because it poses an inconvenience!
     
  11. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    With the exception of signing a business contract, as in when you join the military or another organisation, which is voluntary BTW, do we as individuals have 100% control over our own bodies?

    On any other subject our American friends here would be jumping up and down talking about constitution rights etc, but funny on this one and abortion they back off.

    Yes or no, do we not have the right to do whatever we wish to our own bodies?
     
  12. yorkshirelad

    yorkshirelad Master Black Belt

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    Do you forget that the child in the woman's body doesn't get to make the decision whether it dies or not?
     
  13. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    Do you have a right, backed by the constitution to your body? yes or no?
     
  14. Balrog

    Balrog Master of Arts

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    I agree with what you said. He may not have gone about it in the best way, but he sure got people thinking about quality-of-life issues for the terminally ill. He's the reason that we now have people issuing powers of attorney with DNR and pull the plug orders in them.
     
  15. Blade96

    Blade96 Senior Master

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    People's right to punch stops at my face. (except maybe in Karate class. LOL.) But when we take MA we consent to that. and recognize that it will happen. We say yes.

    People, including fetuses, right to life stops at my uterus. They can stay there only if the woman says so. Because its in her body.
     
  16. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    It's not just the terminally ill or the old that are asking for the 'right to die', we are now having the situation where young soldiers, some as young as 18 are coming back from Aghan dreadfully wounded. Advances in medicine are such now that lives can be saved whereas once they would have died from their injuries. A soldier last year from our brigade lost everything from the waist down, he survived in a coma for many months before slipping away. no one has asked nor will they, if that slipping away was a natural progression or one that was helped to happen. We have soldiers who are basically nothing more than a torso coming home often blind and deaf as well. There of course are many who fight to live and fight to regain some normalcy but facing many years of not being able to do anything for yourself, having no limbs or just one is more than many can face. It's also just the tip of the iceberg.
     
  17. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    dignity
     
  18. yorkshirelad

    yorkshirelad Master Black Belt

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    Then we disagree, pure and simple!!
     
  19. Nomad

    Nomad Master Black Belt

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    It's always been interesting to me that you can charge someone with a crime for attempting suicide, but not for succeeding. I believe this is the only crime where that holds true.

    I absolutely believe in the right of a person, especially one suffering from a painful, terminal disease, to choose to end their life with dignity. Having watched a strong, caring, and beautiful lady waste away of lung cancer (when we saw her, she was below 80 lbs), I certainly know that's not how I would choose to exit. I'd rather be remembered as I was in life, not as the literal shell of myself in great pain waiting to die.

    I also think the analogy of a family pet is quite valid. If your beloved dog or cat was suffering anywhere near what we force many people to go through, you'd have mercy on them and have them put out of their misery. With people, it's much clearer, because it can generally be their choice of whether to stick it out or not.

    Doctors have been involved in these decisions for probably as long as there have been doctors; in the case of my wife's grandmother (see above), the doctors at the hospital were shocked that she was conscious because they were deliberately pumping morphine into her to try and induce coma (and presumably overdose so she could pass a little quicker and in a little less pain).

    My best friend lost his wife a few years ago to a virulent stomach cancer that went systemic. She went through a couple of courses of chemotherapy early on, but when they told her that it had come back and was spreading again, she decided against further treatment, though at the time her husband was literally begging her to so they could have a little extra time (likely measured in weeks rather than months or years) together.

    Kevorkian drew a line in the sand, stated publicly exactly what he was doing, and drew attention to the euthanasia debate. He also stood by his convictions through various court battles and a lengthy prison term.
     
  20. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Bear in mind that we are talking about several different issues here.

    1) Right to self-destruction (suicide).
    2) Right for others to assist (assisted suicide).
    3) Right for others to end the person's life (euthanasia).

    They are not all the same thing. It may be a crime to commit suicide, but as noted above, it can only be prosecuted if it fails (however, it is unusual for it be prosecuted at all).

    The second refers to people making it possible for a person to complete the act of suicide on their own. It is not unusual (so I have been told) for doctors to allow terminally-ill patients to have more than enough prescription painkillers in their possession to end their lives painlessly if they should choose to do so; even to giving them information regarding what they should *not* do if they do *not* want to fall asleep and simply never wake up (wink, wink).

    The third refers to people (commonly doctors) actually performing the act of ending the patient's life. This is active euthanasia, and that is what got Jack Kevorkian sentenced to prison.

    It is possible to hold different opinions on the three positions.

    If you insist on including the abortion debate, then that is four positions that it is possible to hold differing opinions on. Despite any argument to the contrary, abortion is fundamentally different from any form of suicide because the life that is ended is incapable of choosing to do so. If one argues that the life ended is not actually a life, then again it does not apply to this discussion, because suicide, whether assisted, solitary, or done by a third party, involves ending life. If one argues a fetus is not alive, then that discussion clearly does not belong here for that reason.123
     

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