The man who advocated the right to die when disease became intolerable dies a natural death.Dr Jack Kevorkian died in Michigan on the 2nd June. He was being treated for pneumonia and kidney problems when he developed a complication called pulmonary embolus proving fatal. Kevorkian was an activist for physician – assisted suicide and in the 1990s invented a suicide machine which injected a lethal drug into the terminally ill people who sought his help. Over a decade he helped sufferers of alzheimers disease, cancer patients, people with emphysema and sufferers of motor neurone disease end their suffering . He was also responsible for facilitating the public debate over dying with dignity issues and showing videos of his patients begging him end their suffering.
Two US states, Oregon and Washington subsequently adopted laws allowing physician – assisted deaths of the terminally ill. For his trouble he went to jail for eight years after a videotaped assisted suicide was shown across the country.
That “Dr Death” as he was called, died a natural death has surprised some people but I wonder why this is so. Just because the Michigan Pathologist assisted in the suicide of over 100 suffering people why should it be expected that he would also take his own life sooner than was necessary.
This week on local radio 774’s Conversation Hour the presenter Jon Faine expressed some surprise that Kevorkian had not taken his own life but had died naturally. This is a very simplistic response to the situation for what Kevorkian and other euthanasia activists seek is to provide relief for the terminally ill- those who have long-standing and incurable diseases.
Jack Kevorkian didn’t die after a long and intractable battle with cancer accompanied by pain and indignity; he did not suffer from motor neurone disease and its extinguishing paralysis. From media reports of his death we know that he was ill for a short while and so would not have needed to seek a physician assisted death for himself.