Assisted Suicide 2 Essay, Research Paper
An advocate of assisted-suicide, Dr. Kevorkian, has recently been convicted of 2nd degree murder for an assisted-suicide and faces up to 25 years. Kevorkian claims to have assisted in over 130 suicides since 1990. Three earlier juries have acquitted him, and a mistrial was declared in his fourth case. In his most recent case, he was charged with murder for the lethal injection of 52 year old Thomas Youk, who suffered from Lou Gehrig s disease. Youk was the first case in which Kevorkian delivered the fatal dose of drugs himself. He filmed the death and turned it over to 60 Minutes , essentially for publicity and to end up in court again. Although Kevorkian wanted to be in court to battle the issue of assisted suicide, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor John Skrzynski told the jury that This case is not about the right to die. This case is about Jack Kevorkian s right to kill. (1) Beyond the issue at hand, the fact is that Dr. Kevorkian killed someone, for which he was on trial. Whether or not it is ethical or morally correct, he was on trial for the murder of a man which he obviously committed. He was also convicted of delivering a controlled substance and he may serve up to an additional seven years for that offence.
Many people are upset about his conviction, including the Youk family, however the justice system is very pleased with it. Judge Jessica Cooper reproached Kevorkian, whose medical license was revoked eight years ago, for his blatant dismissal of the law. No one, sir, is above the law. No one, she said. (2) The legal system is obviously very pleased with the conviction because Kevorkian has evaded the law for so long by taking part in so many assisted-suicides and not serving any time. Because he filmed this one and showed it on national TV, the prosecution had a much better case, and was able to convict him finally, after being embarrassed for so long. Now that Kevorkian has been convicted, they are cracking down on other people involved in assisted-suicides as well, and trying to really enforce the illegality of it. An associate of Dr. Kevorkian, Dr. George Reding, is being investigated for the death of Donna Brennan whose death was caused by an overdose of the sedative pentobarbital. Evidence relating to her death was found at his home, including files that include apparent medical records of patients across the country. His attorney, Michael Schwartz, says that authorities, ever since the Kevorkian sentencing, are harassing Reding, now that they are determined to convict anyone involved.
Authorities are not the only ones against assisted-suicides as religious persons also readily oppose them. A common feeling among religious leaders is that life is a gift that only God can take away. Also, they feel that the criterion used by Dr. Kevorkian was not strict enough, and that people had no way to change their mind once the procedure started. Also, they feel that assisted suicide would give elderly people a chance to lift the burden that they feel they are on their families, therefore giving them a reason to want to commit suicide, when they don t actually want to. They not only do they think it is morally wrong, but they see too many problems with the procedure.
The trial did bring attention to the subject however, which is what Kevorkian wanted, and now many people are in the spotlight about what they are going to do about the issue. Oregon was the first state to allow a physician to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to a terminally ill patient. There is a bill in California that may be passed concerning assisted-suicide that would make it legal under strict rules. A few of the requirements are that the person has to have a diagnosis that they are within six months of death, have two doctors review the case, and must voluntarily request assistance in dying. Such steps are being made to try to make it an option for the terminally ill, and I believe it is the right thing to do.
Assisted-suicide is a very serious issue that has been debated about for years, and is still very controversial. It is an issue similar to abortion in that it basically deals with people who are pro-life and pro-choice, with the majority of people falling somewhere in between those two extremes. Supporters essentially believe that we have the choice to end our lives under the circumstance of terminal illness and suffering. Those opposed to assisted-suicide view it as murder, and feel that people involved should be punished accordingly. Although I dislike the idea very strongly of suicide, I feel that in the circumstances of the people involved in the assisted-suicides, it should be allowed. The people who have already been involved in this are people who have no chance of survival, and will live the rest of their lives in a hospital and in pain. They don t want to live anymore, and they shouldn t have to. Some fear that with the legality of assisted-suicide people will feel that it is okay to commit suicide even if they aren t terminally ill. Many fear that it will lower people s standard of life if it is legal to commit suicide. I don t believe that this is so. If assisted-suicide were made legal, there would be very strict rules to be followed concerning procedure and those eligible, and people who are suicidal already would not be affected at all. I don t believe that the legality of it would influence them at all to commit suicide. If a person really wants to commit suicide, the fact that it is illegal has nothing to do with their decision. Breaking the law is the last thing that affects their decision, so if it were legal, it would make no difference whatsoever. Assisted-suicide, whether legal or not, will continue to happen, yet with the correct criteria and legally, it could be an option for those who in their suffering may not value their ending lives.