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.