Kevorkian Essay Essay, Research Paper
Jack Kevorkian is one of America’s most controversial people. Since 1989 he has aided in the death of over one hundred people, some as young as twenty-one. Kevorkian has used three methods for assisting in the suicides of his “patients”. His original death machine was “execution by lethal injection, except you do it yourself.” This death machine was simply a metal pole with bottles containing drug solutions. A needle was inserted into the arm of the “patient” and the flow of saline started. A switch would need to be hit in order to start the death process. First, a solution of sedatives began, followed by a paralyzing drug. Then potassium chloride would stop the heart, causing death. Kevorkian’s second machine was very similar to the first one, but it had fewer moving parts and did not include the paralyzing drug. Kevorkian’s third machine was very different from the previous two. It consisted of a mask to be placed over the face which was connected by tubing to a canister of carbon monoxide gas. This new machine would cause death from carbon monoxide poisoning. By using these three contraptions, Kevorkian assisted in the deaths of over one-hundred people by delivering a controlled substance to them and should be held criminally accountable for his actions. Kevorkian has entered himself into medical fields in which he has no training or familiarity with, has helped people with no terminal illness commit suicide along with many others who would not be seen as competent enough to make appropriate decisions. Many of Kevorkian’s “patients” could have lived for many more enjoyable years.
Most doctors are heavily trained before they can practice medicine in a specific area, but Dr. Kevorkian has no credentials whatsoever which would qualify him to deal with depressed or dying people. When asked about his medical career, Kevorkian once said: “Well, it’s never been going well. I had an erratic practice…I had so many controversial topics on my resume, that people were just frightened to death of me. And it was hopeless to get a position.” With the exception of his residency and his military service in the 1950s, he had had no clinical experience with live patients prior to his assisted suicides. Most of his professional experience has been in the field of pathology (dealing with dead bodies and body parts). In addition, he has no training or expertise in diagnosing or treating depression, and has no experience in the fields of internal medicine, geriatrics, psychiatry and neurology. He has said that the decision about who is worthy to use his death machine is based on his medical expertise , but he has admitted that he is not qualified to practice medicine, even as a general practitioner. In addition to not having the credentials to practice medicine on the depressed or terminally ill, Kevorkian does not even have a license to practice medicine at all. In 1991 his Michigan license was suspended and in 1993 his California license was also suspended. According to the California Attorney General’s office, Kevorkian is “fundamentally unfit to practice medicine.”
One main fallacy of those who support Kevorkian is the belief that his main goal is to stop the pain that his “patients” are experiencing. The media has often portrayed Kevorkian as a doctor just trying to help those with terminal illnesses. But the fact is that is that helping the terminally ill is not Kevorkian’s primary objective. He has specifically stated that the alleviation of pain and suffering is only a “minor benefit” in his overall scheme of things. His ultimate goal is not to help the “doomed” person, and has described this “minor benefit” as only the first step which will lead to his goal. Kevorkian’s major goal is the establishment of deadly human experimentation. Kevorkian has even drawn up extensive plans for these death centers and has divided the state of Michigan state into eleven killing zones. In each of these killing zones he wants to establish death houses run by “untouchables” where even someone as young as eighteen could go to commit suicide. Under his guidance he believes that the “untouchables” would be “incorruptible.” He has proposed an “auction market for available organs” taken from those who submit themselves to these death centers. It is clearly evident that the motives behind Kevorkian’s “mercy killings” are not only to alleviate the pain and suffering of his “patients”, but rather to begin extensive experimentation on humans, an act which has unquestionably been deemed unethical.
Kevorkian does not limit his services to the terminally ill who are not depressed. In most proposals to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide “terminally ill” is defined as meaning a life expectancy of six months or less. Yet the majority of Jack Kevorkian’s “patients” did not fall within this meaning of “terminally ill.” In response to this Kevorkian has defined terminal illness as “any disease that curtails life even for a day.” He adds that, if a person is depressed over illness or disability, the depression becomes irrelevant. Published reports and court records clearly show that the majority of Kevorkian’s “patients” did not fall within the generally accepted definition of “terminally ill” (life expectancy of six months or less). Some reportedly could have lived for many more months or even for many years. In many of his “patients” other factors may have contributed to their decisions to die. For example: Elaine Goldbaum had financial problems and feared losing her house ; Jonathon Grenz was said to be depressed and overwhelmed with grief following his mother’s death.
Many of Kevorkian’s “patients” had options other than death. Janet Adkins, who died on July 4, 1990 at the age of 54 from a lethal dose of drugs, had many other options other than death. She was only in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and her own doctor said she had at least ten years of productive life ahead of her. Janet did not want to be a burden on her family, and thought that her death would be a gift to her family. Marjorie Wantz, who died on October 23, 1991 of a lethal dose of drugs, also had many options other than death. Marjorie suffered from pain in her pelvic area. Although doctors believed the pain was manageable, she did not follow their recommendations. Also, Marjorie was taking large doses of Halicon (a medication which impairs judgement) in the months preceding her death, which greatly inhibited her ability to make correct decisions. Sherry Miller is another one of Kevorkian’s “patients” who had options other than death. Sherry died on October 23, 1993 of carbon monoxide poisoning. Sherry was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and could have lived for many more enjoyable years, but, like Janet Adkins, felt that she was becoming a burden on the people that she loved. Sherry also had been suffering from depression, but refused to take her prescribed medication.
Kevorkian and his attorneys have attempted to label his opponents as “religious nuts” and “Nazis.” They have stated that the Medical Board of California is “a religious cult,” and that the Michigan legislature is controlled by “a right-wing fanatic religious minority.” They have also stated that if the people were given the chance to vote they would show great support for assisted suicide and euthanasia. But since Kevorkian’s started his assisted suicides, voters in Washington and California have defeated propositions that would have legalized Kevorkian’s activities. Major newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle opposed the measure being voted on in California. Organizations such as the California State Hospice Association and California Commission on Aging also opposed the measure. These newspapers and organizations could not be described as religious publications or groups in any way.
Kevorkian is attempting to use the public to influence the courts and legislatures into accepting assisted suicide and euthanasia. He recently video-taped the death of 52-year-old Thomas Youk so that it could be aired nationally on the CBS news show 60 Minutes. In his interview with Mike Wallace Kevorkian challenged the Michigan prosecutors to take him to court saying that “They must charge me…if not, they show that they cannot convict me in a court of law.” Michigan’s prosecutors took his challenge and charged him with first degree murder, assisted suicide, and delivery of a controlled substance. Although they had dropped the assisted suicide charge, the prosecutors came away with a verdict of second-degree murder and delivery of a controlled substance.
1 “Doctor Invents ‘Self-Execution’ Machine,” San Francisco Chronicle, 10/28/89
2 “A Vital Woman Chooses Death,” People Magazine, 6/25/90,p.43
3 “New Kevorkian ‘death machine,’” Medical Tribune, 4/4/91
4 Medical Tribune, 4/4/91
5 “Kevorkian watches as 2 women kill themselves with suicide machines,” Detroit News, 10/24/91
6 Jack Kevorkian, Speech given to the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., October 27,1992
7 Michigan v Kevorkian, Plaintiff’s Brief, 4/22/92,p.31
9 First Supplemental Accusation Against Jack Kevorkian before the Medical Board of California, 12/28/93, p.29
10 Testimony of Jack Kevorkian, M.D., Michigan v. Kevorkian, Oakland County (MI) Circuit Court, 6/8/90, p.40
11 First Supplemental Accusation Against Jack Kevorkian before the Medical Board of California, 12/28/93, pp. 11-12
12 “California Suspends Kevorkian’s License,” Los Angeles Times, 4/28/93, p.A3
13 California Medical Board, Complainants Brief, 12/28/93, p. 19
14 “Medicide: The Goodness of Planned Death–An Interview with Dr. Jack Kevorkian,” Free Inquiry, Fall l991, p. 15
15 Kevorkian, Prescription: Medicide, p. 214
17 J. Kevorkian, “A Fail-Safe Model for Justifiable Medically-Assisted Suicide,” American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 1992, pp. 11 & 28
18 Gilbert, Ohio Northern University Law Review (1994), p. 674
19 Testimony of Jack Kevorkian, M.D., Michigan v. Kevorkian, Oakland County (MI) Circuit Court, 6/8/90, pp.11-12
20 J. Kevorkian, “A Controlled Auction Market Is a Practical Solution to the Shortage of Transplantable Organs,” Medicine and Law, 1992, p. 49.
21 Ibid., p. 51.
22 Washington Initiative 119; California Proposition 161; Oregon “Death with Dignity Act”;
23 “‘Dr. Death’: No law is needed on euthanasia,” USA Today, October 28, 1992, p. 6A.
24 Testimony of Jack Kevorkian, M.D., Michigan v. Kevorkian, Oakland County (MI) Circuit Court, 6/8/90, pp.43-44
25 “Kevorkian assists in 12th suicide,” Detroit News, 2/9/93
26 “Kevorkian: Death must be an option,” USA Today, 2/22/94, p.2A.
27 “Profession condemns doctor,” Detroit Free Press, 6/7/90, p. 14A
28 “A Vital Woman Chooses Death,” People Magazine, 6/25/90, p. 42
29 “Kevorkian suicide patient was on Halcion,” Detroit News, 11/3/91
30 “Kevorkian suicide patient was on Halcion,” Detroit News, 11/3/91
31 California Medical Board, Complainant’s Brief, 12/28/93, p. 67
32 “Defiant Kevorkian vows to break Michigan law,” Vindicator (Youngstown, OH), 2/21/93, p. A13
33 “Kevorkian Assists Another,” Detroit Free Press, 2/16/93.
34 “California Suspends Kevorkian’s License,” Los Angeles Times, 4/28/93
35 “Kevorkian helps 12th patient end life,” Detroit Free Press, 2/9/93
36 “Suicide may be murder,” Detroit Free Press, 2/6/93
37 Washington voters defeated Initiative 119 in 1991, Californians turned down Proposition 161 in 1992
38 “Physician-Assisted Death: Is This Measure the Answer?” Los Angeles Times, 10/14/92 and “The Chronicle Recommends,” San Francisco Chronicle, 10/29/92
39 “NO on 161″ campaign material from both organizations
40 “Death by Doctor,” 60 Minutes, 11/22/98
42 Detroit Free Press, 11/26/98
43 NY Times, 3/27/99