Warehouse G

Death With Dignity

Kevorkian; A Persecuted American Hero

James Donahue
Death in the United States has been turned into a horror story beyond anything ever conceived in the opium dreams of early American writer Edgar Allen Poe. Those who do not escape by a sudden private event such as a heart attack, stroke, or accident, are often condemned to the agony of a slow, painful passing within the sterile walls of a modern hospital setting.

I know from personal experience how terrible the hospital event can be. Some years back I collapsed from a bleeding ulcer, was whisked by ambulance to the local clinic, and put through a few hours of literal hell. While lying in an emergency room ward, retching and passing blood at both ends of my body, I was forced to endure plastic tubes rammed through every orifice that wasn't already busy, including three the doctor cut me open to find.

That doctor, and a special nurse, stayed at my side throughout the day and the following night, and saved my life. Had they not taken the steps they did, I would surely have bled to an early death. Enduring the agony I went through was a necessary road to recovery.

My point is that for many dying patients, there is no road to recovery. They go out slowly, enduring all of the suffering I experienced for those few terrifying hours, for days and sometimes months before death either overpowers the machines or someone in their graceful mercy turns them off.

Think of lying helpless on your back, with a plastic tube stuck in your urinary track, another one stuck in your arm, a third through your nose and down your esophagus, wires glued to your chest and ankles, and an oxygen machine forcing air in and out of your lungs. The setting is a busy hospital, with nurses, doctors, service personnel, and cleaning people coming and leaving your room constantly, all day and all night. The only sleep you get is when you become comatose. The walls are always painted either flat white or yellow. A television hanging from a nearby wall, constantly feeds you the false, surreal images and gaggle from talking heads representing the outside world. This is the way you go out. It doesn't get any better than this.

And why do the doctors, nurses and staffers from other hospital (and long-term care facilities) work so hard to prolong your agony during the dying process? The primary reason is money. There are big insurance and estate payments to gain for every day you stay alive and remain in that state of pain and suffering. Family members, who could (and sometimes do) try to intervene, find themselves fighting in courts of law to have the process stopped. That is because laws are written that force medical personnel to do all in their power to keep the patient alive as long as possible. To do anything less is considered the equivalent of murder.

I know there are many brave doctors who frequently break the rules and let the patient die with dignity. An injection of just the right amount of morphine, or perhaps some other drug, quietly sends them off to the great beyond. They do this out of great empathy for the patient and never speak of it.

Enter Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a Michigan physician who wanted to do something about this silent drama. A pathologist by trade, Kevorkian rarely had direct personal contact with patients, but he understood the evil greed, stirred by a twisted church-based theology, that existed behind the law. He began openly helping people with painful and terminal illnesses commit suicide.

Kevorkian dared the medical and legal professions to challenge what he was doing. It was his hope that (a.) he could start a movement to get doctor-assisted suicides legalized, or (b.) he could break the law through legal moves in the courts.

It was a long, well fought battle, but in the end, the church and the Michigan legislators got Kevorkian. He was convicted in a Michigan court of second degree murder after the 60-Minutes television show broadcast Kevorkian assisting a voluntary euthanasia. The patient was dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The doctor was paroled in June, 2007 after serving eight of a 10-25-year prison sentence. While he has agreed not to conduct any more doctor assisted suicides, Kevorkian has not given up his campaign. Speaking before a crowd of 4,878 at the University of Florida last year, he said: “My aim in helping the patient was not to cause death. My aim was to end suffering. It’s got to be decriminalized.”

Instead of rising up in support of Kevorkian, as the doctor had hoped, the American sheeple sat back in their stupor and allowed the Michigan courts to convict the man of murder.

Not only this, but Michigan has a law on the books that forces convicted felons to personally pay the state for the cost of keeping them locked behind bars. When sued by the state treasurer for his estate, Kevorkian settled with an agreement to pay $28,039.98 from his personal bank account, plus $364.50 a month from his pension for jail rent.
The legal and medical establishments in Michigan have succeeded in doing all they possibly can to destroy the only ray of hope the people have had for death with dignity. And other than the lawyers and personal friends who supported him, nobody else raised a finger to help Kevorkian. Churches denounced him as an evil killer. Both preachers and legislators ravaged the man in words from the bully pulpit. After a legal fight that went on for several years, the masses believe, even now, that justice was properly served.

It is our opinion that justice remains unpaid in Kevorkian’s case. As age and illness creeps up on people, most will fall to the terror of the hospital torture bed. By then, the technology for keeping bodies alive will have been advanced so that people can lie in pain for months and even years.

That is when justice will be served. As they lie in agony, they will remember Jack Kevorkian, but it will be too late.