Dr. Jack Kevorkian (a.k.a. Dr. Death), died early this last Friday morning (Friday, June 3, 2011). He was the Michigan pathologist infamous for assisting the suicide of several terminally ill patients, who had actually requested his assistance. He was 83 at the time of his death. And no, he didn’t commit suicide. (Go figure …) According to his attorney, he had been hospitalized in Michigan with pneumonia and for a kidney-related ailment.
Dr. Kevorkian was charged with murder in several assisted suicides, and was a supporter of assisted suicide and “right-to-die” legislation during the 1990’s.
In 1999, he was convicted of second-degree murder charges due to the death of a patient who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was paroled in 2007.
To my knowledge, he never assisted another suicide, however, always maintained that he had no regrets, and that terminally ill patients “have a right to die,” should they desire to do so.
I can’t remember what I really felt about “assisted suicide”, the “right to die”, or “Dr. Death” in the 1990’s. That was 21 years ago and I was too busy thinking about “living”. But now, 21 years later, I am giving the whole thing a lot more thought. (Guess this comes with age … you know …. like gout.) If you forget about all the legal mumbo jumbo ramifications (I watch old movies, that phrase has nothing to do with my age), and forget about the family that might be a little over-zealous to assist you in your demise, and the inexperienced (I would assume most would be inexperienced, but then again, you never know) doctors who may make the whole experience less than divine, I think I do feel that it might be a viable option that I would consider if it were a case of the “perfect storm” of really old age, a terminal illness, and continuous pain. Bottom line for me is that I would at least want the right to make that decision and feel confident that my wishes were carried out.
I really have no clue if Euthanasia (sounds like a name for a high class hooker) will ever be legal in the United States. I was born here and I prefer to die here. And I do hope that I never find cause or have a reason to even want to consider it. I really hope that I’m going to be around long enough to embarrass a few great-great-step-children. (We are still waiting for the first grandchild, by the way)
But, if it is ever legalized … and the worst case scenario was realized …. I would want the administrator/assistant (whatever) to mix in a little Nitrous oxide (laughing gas for us commoners) in the “cocktail”. I figure if I can control when I’m going to go out …. I should be able to control the “how” as well. And on my epitaph, I want the words, “She died with a smile on her face.” No one really has to know it was from Nitrous oxide, now do they?