Friday, June 1, 2007

Get your laws/god off my body: Kevorkian released

I'm pleased to share that Jack Kevorkian was released from prison today after serving part of his sentence for helping people humanly do what they should have the right to do anyway: end their own lives. He served 8 out of the possible 10-25 year sentence for second degree murder.

A smiling Kevorkian, now 79, said it was "one of the high points in life" as he walked out with his lawyer.

He has thought to have been involved in at least 130 assisted suicides. His "Thanatron" and "Mercitron" were two of the devices used to help people commit suicide by pressing a button leading to an IV or breathing Carbon Monoxide.

"You think I'm going to obey the law? You're crazy," he said in 1998 shortly before he was accused -- and then convicted -- of murder after injecting lethal drugs into Thomas Youk, 52, an Oakland County man suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. Kevorkian had videotaped Youk's death and sent it to 60 Minutes. The public airing of this suicide, in which Kevorkian actually administered the injection was to be the catalyst which lead to his incarceration in Michigan.

On his release, his legal assistant Ruth Holmes said his views on the subject haven't changed. "This should be a matter that is handled as a fundamental human right that is between the patient, the doctor, his family and his God."

Kevorkian will be on parole for two years, and one of the conditions he must meet is that he can't help anyone else die. He is also prohibited from providing care for anyone who is older than 62 or is disabled. In a recent interview, Kevorkian was quoted as saying "It's got to be legalized. That's the point... I'll work to have it legalized. But I won't break any laws doing it."

He is scheduled to appear on 60 Minutes again this Sunday.

I applaud what Kevorkian does, as no one should have to suffer. I wonder if those who desired the laws forbidding suicide have faced the pain of Cancer or Lou Gehrig's disease. The Michigan Catholic Conference is one such interest group trying to ensure assisted suicide never is legalized in their state. In my opinion, just because you think it's wrong (or your faith has told you it's wrong) it does not justify forcing others to adhere to the same judgement. If I was in Thomas Youk's position I'd rather use one of his machines and go gently than attempt suicide employing a more painful, traumatic method (for myself and my family).

Mr. Kevorkian: You are a hero and a defender of human freedom. Thank you for having the guts to go to jail to support our right to choose.

People who are against assisted suicide: If your son or daughter is dying of a miserable disease and in intense pain, with no possibility of survival, then by all means keep them alive until the last possible shudder and moan. Then you can let your god decide if you did the right thing. Don't tell me what is best for my body and soul. Thanks.

Photo above: Kevorkian with a "suicide machine." Painting below: Very Still Life, Jack Kevorkian

SOURCES: Canadian Press, Wikipedia, PBS, Michigan Catholic Conference

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