The Right to Die, and Doctor-Assisted Suicide: the Mission of Late Dr. Jack Kevorkian

Topics: Right to die, Suffering, Voluntary euthanasia Pages: 8 (3206 words) Published: March 24, 2013
The Right to Die, and Doctor-Assisted Suicide: The Mission of Late Dr. Jack Kevorkian Imagine a patient in a hospital suffering from the AIDS disease. And since his diagnosis he has suffered from two bouts of pneumonia, chronic, severe sinus and skin infections, severe seizures, and extreme fatigue. Seventy percent of his vision is already lost, and the disease has gone terminal. He has requested that his doctor prescribe him medicine that would kill him thus ending his suffering. This is exactly what Dr. Jack Kevorkian has been fighting for his entire life. To shed positive light upon the controversial subject of Physician-Assisted Suicide. A little back story on Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Kevorkian was the son of Armenian refugees who came to America to escape the Turkish genocide. His early talents ranged from hand-made woodwork, linguistics, to science experiments conducted in his basement. He then became a pathologist, devoting his life to the unusual task of showing the positives and social benefits from death. “He did not just take on the medical establishment and the law; throughout his life he dared to challenge a taboo as old as human civilization – the taboo against death” (Nicol, Wylie 2) Kevorkian was very outspoken and intensely committed to the causes that he believed in. He also lacked the ability to lie, so much, that its said that whenever he played poker with his friends, that he never bluffed, and if he bet everyone else folded. Kevorkian built a machine where patients, through self implanted pumps, have the ability to self-control the does of pain medication that they receive. And now the amount of doctors who quietly comply with a patient's request for a lethal does of medication is slowly rising up. Kevorkian made headlines by evading countless prosecutions, but then a case came up that no one could ignore, a case where a man so deteriorated due to his illness, that he could not operate the machine properly requiring Kevorkian to personally inject the lethal dose of medication himself. This man's name is Tom Youk and his case made the biggest impact on Kevorkian's life. Youk was diagnosed with ALS, a neuromuscular disorder caused by the death of the motor nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement. Youk's condition got worse and worse, making him unable to move his arms and legs, extreme difficulty in speaking, and having no control of his jaw and tongue causing Youk to choke on his own spit. Every doctor he would visit would just prescribe him a different ineffective pain medication that would do no benefit to his condition. Youk had asked several doctors to help him commit suicide but each one would not help him with his request. Then his family contacted Kevorkian, and after very careful research on Youk's medical records, Kevorkian obliged to go through with his treatment. “Kevorkian would later say, 'He just was terrified of choking to death, and he must have felt that he was on the verge of it. And I couldn't have him suffer in that kind of frame of mind because if a man is terrified, it's up to me to dispel that terror.' ” (Nicol, Wylie 9) Through multiple times, Kevorkian made sure that the patient had control over their death, for example, he would hook up a sedative that would go through a patient's IV, stopping the patient's heart if that patient would push a button. Youk was different, because he did not have the ability to physically activate a switch that would release a sedative that would kill him so he requested that Kevorkian would personally give the injection himself. Kevorkian's thought on this was that he would make a statement to the public after assisting Youk, win the court case, and then hopefully this would relieve the fear doctors had in doing the things that he did. Kevorkian recorded the process on tape, read a consent form to Youk, and the next following day, upon Youk's request, injected the lethal sedative into Youk's IV. After the video being...
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