'Dr. Death' Kevorkian Was No Hero

Do those not terminally ill have the right to die?
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 6, 2011 1:44 PM CDT
Kevorkian in 1991.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Many in America celebrate Jack Kevorkian as a humanitarian champion—but “the moral case for assisted suicide depends much more on our respect for people’s own desire to die than on our sympathy for their devastating medical conditions,” writes Ross Douthat in the New York Times. “It is not considered merciful to prescribe an overdose to a cancer victim against her will, or to gently smother a sleeping Alzheimer’s patient,” because they didn’t request it. To Kevorkian’s defenders, “free choice is what separates assisted suicide from murder.”

But if there’s “a right to suicide,” does “a devastated widower, or a parent who has lost her only child” have that right? Kevorkian “didn’t just provide death to the dying; he helped anyone whose suffering seemed sufficient.” One investigation found that 60% of his patients weren’t terminally ill, Douthat contends, and some had no disease at all. We should be glad that, “despite decades of agitation, only three states allow some form of physician-assisted suicide.” The heads of Switzerland’s “suicide clinics” have their admirers. “But it should make us proud of our country” that here, they’d likely end up “in prison, where murderers belong.”

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