Jack Kevorkian, aka Dr. Death, walked away from prison today 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.