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Reader: Dr. Jack Kevorkian Should Be Remembered as Patriot Who Eased Suffering, Not ‘Dr. Death’

What do you think? Should euthanasia be legalized, and should physicians who assist their patients in dying be held harmless? Why or why not?

Dr. Jack Kevorkian is remembered by many residents of Royal Oak, where he lived, not as "Dr. Death" but as a compassionate patriot and humanitarian. (Patch file photo)
Dr. Jack Kevorkian is remembered by many residents of Royal Oak, where he lived, not as "Dr. Death" but as a compassionate patriot and humanitarian. (Patch file photo)

A story about the sale of the Volkswagen minibus used by assisted suicide pioneer Dr. Jack Kevorkian of Royal Oak on calls to terminally ill patients is garnering some comments about whether euthanasia should be legalized.

Kevorkian, who lived in Royal Oak, helped at least 130 terminally ill patients die before his 1999 second-degree murder conviction in the death of a Waterford Township man. That case was profiled on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Kevorkian, who served eight years in prison before his release in 2007, died in 2011 at the age of 83.

The world may have seen Kevorkian, who died in 2011, as “Dr. Death,” a user who goes by Ron Ostradamus pointed out, but Royal Oak should hold a “Jack Kevorkian day in memory of a patriot and humanitarian who had the courage f his convictions and paid the price in spades.”

“How and when an individual wants to leave this veil of tears should be the individual’s choice alone, not the decision of any government, court or medical community.”

Tell Us:

  • Should euthanasia be legalized, and should physicians who assist their patients in dying be held harmless? Why or why not?

Another user, Bill, said there’s merit to “putting one out of their misery.”

“ ...I believe all of Jack’s clients were terminally ill, and most were dependent on others to take care them, and many were in terrible pain. There ought to be a way to set up checks and balances that would prevent an individual from making a rash decision but allow them to make a decision that they believe is best for them and their family. Perhaps having two medical doctors and a psychologist sign-off on the decision. And put a waiting period in there.”

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John David July 09, 2014 at 01:38 PM
I believe the Michigan statute against assisted suicide was overturned by a court in the 90s but the Mich Supreme Court found that common law made assisted suicide a felony. Where Kevorkian messed up most was last death he did, which was broadcast on CBS, showing Kevorkian administering the drugs, not the patient. That's not assisted suicide and Kevorkian could not legally practice medicine. He was just a guy administering lethal drugs. Suicide or assisted suicide is one thing. Someone else administering lethal drugs is another. If we are going to have death with "dignity", and that might be good for some people, there have to be clear rules and protections, for both the patient and whoever assists. That is the slippery slope-how to protect patients from being coerced in any way and protecting medical or other people from legal consequences.
Valerie July 09, 2014 at 06:29 PM
I absolutely disagree. I work in hospice and I get the question about "speeding things up " occasionally . It almost always comes from a place of anxiety, despair and fear. Often the family member or patient who asks this are looking for someone to affirm the value of their life. Once their value is affirmed and emotional support given these questions end. They need reassurance good pain control not someone offering to kill them. Life is sacred even when quality is not readily apparent. The number of times I have seen an "impossible" reconciliation or a patient have a needed good bye at the 13th hour I can't even count. A persons death and the dying process is a sacred time. Euthanasia tries to make dying "easier" by taking control rather than understanding that death is never easy but a good death is possible with good care given with love that respects the sanctity and quality of life till it's natural end.
K. Scott July 09, 2014 at 07:13 PM
Valeria, your experience is somewhat different from mine. I had a very dear friend commit suicide because all that could be done, at the end, was to sit in bed on major and I mean major drugs to control the pain.They decided for themselves before they where totally incapacitated to end it. Watching that suffering they went through convinced me that the end of a life is a personal choice that belongs to the person who is living that life and no one else on earth.
cookiepro2 July 10, 2014 at 12:15 AM
For one who has a family member just diagnosed as terminal (many problems par for the course for a 92 year old) if we had such a law permitting assisted suicide, I'd say proceed with caution based on our experience of the last couple days. Loved one requested the "plug pulled" many times (actually no plugs or machines simply occasional respiratory mask as breathing aid) but changed mind yesterday, and is entering hospice care. He is in no pain (yet), condition has actually improved and has had the opportunity for many family members to come and visit. I sense a winding up of a life well-lived, and the opportunity for many "I love you's". This would have been missed if his request had been immediately jumped upon and was legal. Don't know what the next few weeks will bring, there may be a time when the suffering will be great and wish for euthanasia, but glad at least of the past couple days.
Bill July 10, 2014 at 08:41 AM
Euthanasia is a means of respecting the sanctity and quality of life while providing an individual the choice to die with grace and dignity. It is a very personal choice, but a choice that an individual should legally be permitted to make - provided of course, there is a protocol established. Whether or not to pursue euthanasia should not be a decision that could be made on a whim, when the subject is experiencing a low point.

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