Kevorkian: Oregon Doesn’t Do Death With Dignity “Completely and Right”

I remember when we here in Oregon passed our Death With Dignity Act. During those times, I had a conversation or three with some folks who worked in and with organizations that lobbied for the Act’s passage.

When I asked them if they thought that the actions of so-called “suicide Doc” Jack Kevorkian was beneficial or harmful to their cause, I was always told, harmful. He was and is seen as an embarassment- much the way the Sierra Club looks at the Earth Liberation Front.

But, I wondered, what did Kevorkian think of our Death With Dignity Act? After all, he had spent years in prison partly because his home state of Michigan had no such statute.

Well, Jack was just released from jail just last week. And last night, he was interviewed by Larry King. I found his remarks on our Death With Dignity Act most interesting.

Transcript of the relevant section of the interview follows:

KING: Why have the courts constantly turned you down and why — only one state, Oregon, that’s in your corner?

KEVORKIAN: They’re not in my corner.

KING: Well, they have — they allow assisted suicide, don’t they?

KEVORKIAN: But they think I’m too radical.

KING: Oh, they have it as a different way than you were doing it?

KEVORKIAN: They don’t do it completely and right.

KING: How do they do it wrong?

KEVORKIAN: A person who can’t swallow can’t get the service. Also, he has to be able to move his hand and arm to get the pill up to his mouth. Some can’t do that. Some can’t swallow. There have been people who couldn’t have the service in Oregon. Now that’s not a medical service.

2 Comments so far

  1. JustaDog (unregistered) on June 5th, 2007 @ 7:06 am

    He’s absolutely right!

    How can a person that is so helpless and wanting death be expected to just jot down to some store and get something to end their life on their own?

  2. nader (unregistered) on June 6th, 2007 @ 10:01 am

    Well, I think the issue critical difference is not whether the patient has to actually drive down to the pharmacy to get their meds. They can be delivered to the patient by a friend, loved one, nurse or doctor, or hospice worker once the doc writes the ‘scrip for it.

    I think the point of contention is who actually administers the lethal dose. And while Kevorkian may have a point with some cases (like those who are unable to swallow), I don’t think they represent a very large proportion of patients wishing to end their own lives mercifully.

    My own personal view is that, basically if a patient has the physical capability to swallow a pill, then that patient is capable of taking that definitive action to end their own life, and while I have no problem with a doctor prescribing meds to facilitate their wishes, I feel very uncomfortable with the doctor actually administering the lethal medication to the patient.

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