Free Dr. Kevorkian

by | Nov 27, 2001

The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed last week the murder conviction of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who was sentenced in 1999 to 10 to 25 years in prison. He was convicted on charges of second-degree murder in a clear-cut case of assisted suicide. Was justice done-or betrayed? Suppose you had a devastating terminal disease, such as […]

The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed last week the murder conviction of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who was sentenced in 1999 to 10 to 25 years in prison. He was convicted on charges of second-degree murder in a clear-cut case of assisted suicide. Was justice done-or betrayed?

Suppose you had a devastating terminal disease, such as advanced multiple sclerosis, widespread bone cancer, or some other horrifying illness we shudder just to think about. Imagine yourself living with unbearable pain, day after day, month after month, increasingly losing your motor control, or worse still, losing your mind. Try to understand the terrible suffering your loved ones would also have to endure, witnessing you go through this physical and mental disintegration.

Maybe you would decide to endure it till the end. But maybe you would decide you couldn’t take it any longer, and would want to put an end to your suffering. This decision should be entirely up to you. After all, it is your life, your suffering. Nevertheless, some people claim you should not have the right to do it. They insist that you and your loved ones should endure the pain all the way to the very end. But why do they think they are entitled to have control over your life and your choice of ending it?

Many say that assisted suicide should be forbidden because it is a form of murder. But they ignore the obvious and fundamental fact that the patient asks the doctor for assistance. When a woman asks a man to make love to her, nobody considers it rape. For the same reason, when a person begs his doctor to end his life, nobody should consider it murder.

A great number of people oppose assisted suicide for fear that innumerous abuses would follow from its legalization. But no one would be legally assisted in his suicide if not by his own request. The law should do no more than set the standards to recognize the legitimacy of such requests.

Yet another argument against assisted suicide is that people do not really know what is best for them and should be forbidden to make this important decision. But if we follow the logic of this argument we would have to conclude that people should be forbidden to make any important decisions. What proponents of this argument really want is to impose their values on you.

Some religious people, who claim personal knowledge that their god does not approve of assisted suicide, also want to decide for you. Why should you let them?

The bottom line is that all attempts to deny you the choice of assistance in ending your life are attempts to deny you control over your life. And if you don’t own your life, who does?

The fundamental reason you should be allowed to contract a doctor’s assistance in your suicide is your right to your life, which includes the right to decide on the manner and timing of your dying.

If you ever have to make the terrible choice to put an end to your life, you may find that you cannot to do it by yourself, and realize that you need the help of a doctor-a doctor like Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

Dr. Kevorkian has assisted the deaths of more than a hundred patients. His medical license was revoked, his life threatened, and his freedom taken away. He has put everything dear to him at risk and paid the ultimate price. Why?

He did it to uphold his immovable conviction that a man has a right to end his life, and to establish a doctor’s right to help a terminal patient consciously demanding to be relieved of his suffering. Thanks to Dr. Kevorkian, we may have that right recognized, some day.

Dr. Kevorkian has fought for his principles, against ignorance and injustice, in a world partially blind to heroism. Despite all opposition and hardship he fought for all of us, a lone unrecognized hero supported by the strength of his convictions, and moved by the vision of what is right.

So thank you Dr. Kevorkian for being a hero, for showing us what heroism is, and that it is possible. Thank you for your courage and devotion in fighting for our rights, our liberty, and our dignity as human beings. Thank you.

David Holcberg, a former civil engineer and businessman, is now a writer living in Southern California. He is a former writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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