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Friday, June 3, 2011

Jack Kevorkian, Bringer Of Death, Has Died

"Dr" Jack Kevorkian, aka "Dr Death", died early this morning in a Detroit hospital due to complications from pneumonia and liver disease.

From HuffPost-AOL News:
DETROIT — Jack Kevorkian, the retired pathologist who captured the world's attention as he helped dozens of ailing people commit suicide, igniting intense debate and ending up in prison for murder, has died in a Detroit area hospital after a short illness. He was 83.

Kevorkian, who said he helped some 130 people end their lives from 1990 to 1999, died about 2:30 a.m. at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, close friend and prominent attorney Mayer Morganroth said. He had been hospitalized since last month with pneumonia and kidney problems.

An official cause of death had not been determined, but Morganroth said it likely will be pulmonary thrombosis.

"I had seen him earlier and he was conscious," said Morganroth, who added that the two spoke about Kevorkian's pending release from the hospital and planned start of rehabilitation. "Then I left and he took a turn for the worst and I went back."

Nurses at the hospital played recordings of classical music by composer Johann Sebastian Bach for Kevorkian before he died, Morganroth said.

Kevorkian was freed in June 2007 after serving eight years of a 10- to 25-year sentence for second-degree murder. His lawyers had said he suffered from hepatitis C, diabetes and other problems, and he had promised in affidavits that he would not assist in a suicide if he was released.

Being a Michigan resident, I'm all too familiar with all the press and the trials and the notoriety regarding this man. He now has to face God for his actions, and I pray that He is merciful.

The Church is very clear in Her teachings regarding euthanasia:

2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.

Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.

The battle and debate over physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia and "Death with Dignity" legislation in America will forever be waged. The arguments for such positions seem awfully reasonable - "It's my choice how and when to die"; "It's compassionate to let people kill themselves when they are in chronic pain"; "Forcing people to suffer is intolerable"; "I wouldn't want to be a burden to my family"; "They no longer enjoy quality of life". And so on.

The problem is, the "reasonable" positions are not the ceiling, but the floor. Eventually, it will no longer be one's personal choice - the choice will be made for them by dispassionate bureaucrats and medical professionals. Other people will come to define what 'suffering' is; what 'quality of life' is; what the acceptable level of 'burden' is - not just to family, but to society as a whole. And then it will be "Katie bar the door" time - as it is in Holland, where In 30 years Holland has moved from assisted suicide to euthanasia, from euthanasia of people who are terminally ill to euthanasia of those who are chronically ill, from euthanasia for physical illness to euthanasia for mental illness, from euthanasia for mental illness to euthanasia for psychological distress or mental suffering, and from voluntary euthanasia to involuntary euthanasia or as the Dutch prefer to call it "termination of the patient without explicit request".(Source)

The push for legalized euthanasia in the United States - already legal in a couple states - is representative of a greater inherent disrespect for the human person. It is not a demonstration of power over one's life, no matter how much it seems like it. It's giving Despair the power. It's relinquishing control, not exerting it. Thus, the greatest gift given by God - one's very life - is forfeited. It gets thrown away - or taken away - because it fails to meet some preconceived standard.

Most of the commenters at the HuffPost piece are eulogizing Jack Kevorkian for his 'honesty', 'integrity' and 'compassion', for being a 'trailblazer', a 'hero' and 'leaving a wonderful legacy'. In 30 years time, I wonder if they'll still be saying that?