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Jack Kevorkian, aka Dr. Death, walked away from prison yesterday after serving eight of his 25-year sentence for murdering a 52-year-old terminally ill man by administering lethal drugs to the Lou Gehrig’s disease patient who wanted to end his suffering. The event was taped by Kevorkian and broadcast on “60 Minutes” for the world to see - including prosecutors who successfully used it to send Dr. Death to prison.

Kevorkian is one creepy individual whose obsession with the "still life" goes back half a century and was revealed in his artwork and music long before he started his assisted suicide campaign that helped end the lives of more than 100 patients (one reviewer of his jazz album at Amazon.com remarked "The final track ‘Une Lettre de Jean’ is very dark, reminds me of funeral music").

Throughout his professional career Kevorkian expressed a desire to perform unheard of research such as experimenting on consenting convicts during their executions and transfusing blood from cadavers to live patients. He found little support in the medical community and many conservatives likened his philosophy on pathology to what led to the cruel experiments performed on prisoners by the Nazis during World War II.

Now a free man, Dr. Kevorkian will continue to advocate for the right to end one's life but will do so without breaking any laws or assisting in any more suicides - probably good for him as his health is reportedly on the decline and he would probably not survive another eight year-stint in the big house.

Both sides of the euthanasia debate have strong feelings on Kevorkian that range from liberating hero to cold-blooded murderer. Some say his intentions were good while others see a dark agenda that stemmed from his early obsession with death. Either way, he provided a service to people, who - at least thought - they couldn't handle the pain of whatever infliction that plagued them.

Only twice in my life can I say I was ever truly miserable; an anomaly pain accompanied a migraine I once got in college, and while completing a federal law enforcement training program I was exposed to a nasty dose of oleoresin capsicum spray that had me hating life for about eight or nine minutes at the peak of its effectiveness.

Everyone can recall a time or two when they experienced an unbearable level of pain, whether by unfortunate accident, unexplainable medical issue, or pepper spray training. But can you imagine what some terminally ill patients endure on a daily basis to such a degree that they would consider ending their lives? While my position doesn’t reflect my personal opinion on the value of human life or the amount of pain I’d be willing to suffer to enjoy God’s precious gift of life, the government should have no interest in prolonging the life of someone who doesn't want to live. Specifically to those suffering from pain due to terminal illness, access to fatal amounts of drugs should be available.

Not that I would ever pretend we live in a truly free society, but to not be afforded the aforementioned option makes the idea of a free society an absolute joke.

Posted by Scottie at June 2, 2007 10:53 AM
Comments
Comment #221988

This is a decision that should be left to the patient, their doctor, and their God.

Posted by: barneygoogle at June 2, 2007 11:31 AM
Comment #222005

…..and Oregon has its’ “Death With Dignity” act in place.
This is pretty difficult for us to think about when we are in our prime, all is working well and we are pain-free. Getting older is really a bi**h and I’m sure has caused more than a few people to give thought to finding release from pain filled living.
I find it somewhat puzzling that we will have a pet euthanized out of love and not wishing to see them suffer, yet we can’t extend that compassion to humans.
Methinks this is just one more area in which government should have no say.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at June 2, 2007 2:31 PM
Comment #222011

The one question I have is where do we draw the line? I can understand when a person is in excruciating pain they would want to die. We already have living wills. Take the Terry Schivo case there was nothing in writing, but the courts took the husbands word that she didn’t want to live like she was. The quality of life goes into question there. Do we let the immediate family decide when an older person has alzheimers, or has just become a burden to them. The death with dignity poses a lot of questions.

Posted by: KAP at June 2, 2007 3:34 PM
Comment #222012

Kervorkian is a dangerous person and doesn’t belong in society. If this physco is so in love with death that he likes seeing people die they need to stick a needle in his arm so he can watch himself die. I’m surprised that anyone would even defend this murdering physco maniac and his murdering sick folks.
He may not have actually pushed the button on his murder machine but he sure as hell hooked his victims up to it. That my friends is murder.
They need to put this sicko murderer back in prison where he belongs for the rest of his miserable life. And then make sure it’s a short one.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 2, 2007 3:40 PM
Comment #222025

You’re right KAP…there is certainly much more to this issue than will ever be decided here. It’s one of those walk a mile in my shoes subjects that ranks right up there with abortion.
My dad lived with Alzheimer’s for a very long time, and was in a care facility for 10 years before losing him to heart failure. That is one tough health malady to watch, as the person is there physically, but in no other way. I have to admit that I thought more times than I can remember, that he wouldn’t have wanted to “live” the way he was. Fortunately, that decision wasn’t mine to make, but in an even more devastating situation, I lost my daughter at 26 to cancer. She fought for 2 years through surgery and chemo, was hospitilized again and ultimately lapsed into a coma. After 10 days, I had to make the hardest decision in my life….to remove her from life support. It was with maximum agreement from all medical aspects, yet I still ask myself almost daily, 10 years later, if perhaps today would have been the day for a cure to have been announced.
Whatever our choices may be, there should be no condemnation from any factor.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at June 2, 2007 6:22 PM
Comment #222030

Sandra
Sorry for your losses. Ikown it musr have been a difficult decision to remove your daughter from life support. I know it would be with my 2 daughters. Thank God me and my wife have living wills so no has to make that decision for us. It probably would be a hard decision to make for a person to want to die.

Posted by: KAP at June 2, 2007 7:59 PM
Comment #222049

My mother died of Colon Cancer. She had signed a resuscitate order. However, before she went into a coma my sister got her to give her enduring power of attorney. My mother feared being declared dead prematurely. I suspect one too many stories of people buried alive may have affected her decision.

She looked like an Auschwitz victim in the end. My sister called and asked after a week or so of coma and asked if I thought we should remove her feeding and water tubes. She called a lifelong doctor of my mother’s who wife had also died of cancer and asked what he would do. He wouldn’t advise her, but told her that he removed the tubes from his wife.

My sister fretted over the decision, and I asked her was she doing it for our mother or herself? It was hard to let go, but it was the right choice for us and our mother. The government has no place in these decisions.

Calling assisted suicide murder, assumes knowledge and a superior morality that is both arrogant and callous. People die. People endure great pain. Medicine can keep a body functioning long after it’s ability to serve our humanity, no one should have the right to interfere in these most personal decisions. It is a complete revulsion of our national founding principles to believe otherwise. Those that wish to intercede in these decisions should be advised of the infamous symbol of our rebellion, “Don’t tread on me”.

Posted by: barneygoogle at June 3, 2007 12:17 AM
Comment #222057

Dr. Kevorkian is a hero of mine for a number of reasons. I believe people should have a choice as to how they die, and are entitled to assistance in dying with dignity if that is their choice. Also, Kevorkian broke the law, and faced the consequences of it, taking responsibility for his own actions and his role as champion for those clients who sought out his service.

He could have compromised his actions and not broken the law moving to a state where it would have been legal, and he could have fled the country or tried, when it became apparent he was going to end up in prison. His courage to stand by his convictions and take responsibility for both his convictions and his actions I found admirable and far more heroic than the actions of 97% of the rest of Americans.

I hope he writes a book, lives long and prospers from it. My man, Dr. K.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 3, 2007 6:00 AM
Comment #222058

When a person of sound mind and a terminal illness seeks out assisted suicide, it should be none of the state’s business provided those conditions are documented. If a person has Alzheimers or some other infirmity that renders their mind incapable of reason, the State has a vested interest in protecting that person’s civil rights against those who make decisions on their behalf that are not in the patient’s interest. That would include family members and doctors.

Most cases would fall into one of these two groups and therefore, the legal matter can be pretty unambiguous.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 3, 2007 6:08 AM
Comment #222090

David,
I think he has a terminal illness, himself. He may write a book, and hopefully may even prosper, but the die is cast as to a long life, I suspect.

Posted by: barneygoogle at June 3, 2007 12:08 PM
Comment #222125

barneygoogle, death comes all too soon for most of us. It’s what makes life so precious to those who can garner some happiness from its brief stint. And so easily given up for those who can’t or, have higher priorities than life itself. What we do with the time available to us speaks volumes of not only our priorities, but, of the species as well.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 3, 2007 3:22 PM
Comment #222188

As a care giver of a mother who had Altzeheimer, and seen the pain she went thru because she did have her lucid moments, I am for assisted suicide.
I am the one who had to sign the DNR at the hospital when she was there.
I wish the we lived in Oregon, where when she really started getting bad she could have ended it dignity, going the way she would have wanted to.
Yes Hospice helps out, but pain drugs will only do so much.

Yes Kevorkain, did it crudely but, assisted suicide should be every one choice, not the senate, congress, president, or the supreme court, it is between the person who will do the suffering(the patient), their family and GOD.

Government is to far into our lives as it is now. To tell someone they have to live because a Doctor says they want to keep trying something is wrong, but then again there is the money trail.

Posted by: KT at June 3, 2007 10:59 PM
Comment #222214

Ron Brown,

Kervorkian is a dangerous person and doesn’t belong in society. If this physco is so in love with death that he likes seeing people die they need to stick a needle in his arm so he can watch himself die.

He was not convinced for loving death or seeing people dying, he was convinced for Thomas Youk’s homicide.

However, you seems happily ready to see him dying. Does it makes you a death lover or what?

Doctors, by their profession, are way more exposed to witness people’s death. Some of them in extreme pain, the long kind we won’t tolerate for ourself or our loved pets but, how cowardly, still enforce on them.

Anyway, be happy, as you can bet he will soon enough stick a needle in his arm so he can watch himself dying. He knows too much the luck it is to still be able to do it himself.

I’m surprised that anyone would even defend this murdering physco maniac and his murdering sick folks.

Once again, he was convinced of murdering *one* people. You see him as a psycho maniac, while the justice didn’t.

He may not have actually pushed the button on his murder machine but he sure as hell hooked his victims up to it. That my friends is murder.

Then weapon sellers, NRA included, are guilty of murder as well.
Except that in there cases, the murdered lives are not only the “hooked” victims. Unfortunatly.

They need to put this sicko murderer back in prison where he belongs for the rest of his miserable life. And then make sure it’s a short one.

Don’t bother, his Hepatitis C contracted while testing blood transfusions given to American soldiers during Vietnam War will take care of the shortness.
I’m not sure that every patient he’ve helped in the past will totally share your opinion on him, though.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 4, 2007 9:52 AM
Comment #222322

Maybe I’m just screwy, but I’ve never understood why there is any debate on this issue. What it comes down to is that this society has a pathological fear of death. Everything, from our “retirement homes” to our obsession with looking 17 forever to our religions to abortion to this issue revolves around the fact that Americans are scared to death to die. Death is the most natural thing in the world. It is the great equalizer: it comes in it’s time for both princes and paupers. The sooner we come to accept that death is both normal and kind, the sooner we can find happiness in life.

“The smallest sprout shows there is no death
or if there is, it only leads forward to life
and does not wait at it’s end to snuff it out
nor disappears when life begins.
Everything goes upward and outward, nothing collapses,
and death, a far kinder thing than we know,
and better.”

Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

L

Posted by: leatherankh at June 5, 2007 6:54 AM
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