Dr. Jack Kevorkian will be released on parole June 1st after serving 8 years in prison for helping a 52 year old main suffering from Lou Gehrig’s Disease die.
In various interviews, Kevorkian has said:
“Legally it was wrong. It was an infraction of the law. I had to do it that way — or so I thought”
“I assumed it was a constitutional issue of choice. I learned the best way to approach this issue is at the legislative level.”
It’s the opinion of this author that Kevorkian never should have gone to jail at all, let alone been forced to serve 8 years for what should not be considered a crime at all.
“Hopefully,” said Thomas Bowden, “Dr. Kevorkian will be successful nationwide in promoting the right to commit suicide with voluntary physician assistance. Currently, only Oregon has set forth clear procedures by which doctors can insulate themselves from criminal prosecution while easing their dying patients’ pain and suffering.”
“What lawmakers and judges must grasp,” added Bowden, “is that there is no rational basis upon which the government can properly prevent an individual from choosing to end his own life. Our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness means that we need no one’s permission to live, and that no one may forcibly obstruct our efforts to achieve personal happiness. But if happiness becomes impossible to attain, due to a dread disease or some other calamity, a person must be able to exercise the right to end his own life.”
“To hold otherwise–to declare that society must give us permission to commit suicide–is to contradict the right to life at its root,” said Bowden. “If we have a duty to go on living, despite our better judgment, then our lives do not belong to us, and we exist by permission, not by right.
“For these reasons, each individual has the right to decide the hour of his death and to implement that solemn decision as best he can. The choice is his because the life is his. And if a doctor is willing–not forced–to assist in the suicide, based on an objective assessment of his patient’s mental and physical state, the law should not stand in his way.”
Well said, Mr. Bowden. I cannot add anything to that.
“Aren’t you being inconsistent?” is the net effect of the questions. In fact, this argument was recently made by Roland Martin from his lofty perch at CNN:
…it’s still important to at least philosophically explore the issue of being a staunch pro-life advocate, yet stop the moment the child is born.
“I believe that every human life at every phase is unique, is beautiful, is a child of a loving God, period.” Those are the words of [Sam] Brownback, but does not that person — even that hardened criminal — fall under the same banner?
Folks, it’s hard to say on one hand that every life — at every phase — is important, but then say, “Send them to the death chamber!” Those two are diametrically opposed to each other.
Martin is incorrect, first in his assertion that being pro-life ends at birth – an utterly ridiculous statement – and second in saying that death penalty and abortion positions opposed to each other in any way.
In fact, the positions I articulated above are completely consistent when the concept of personal responsibility – one of the most important aspects of American life – is applied to each.
By definition those on death row have deliberately and with malice committed the most terrible crimes imaginable. They had the opportunity to do anything they could imagine with their lives and chose, of their own free will, to kill other human beings. By doing so they voluntarily ended their right to live in our society.
Similarly, those ailing patients who have turned to Dr. Kevorkian and others like him have reached the age of consent and have chosen to end their lives on their own terms. As Bowden articulated so well, there is no valid reason to step between a determined patient and his/her doctor.
Abortions, on the other hand, are imposed by force on the most defenseless lives among us. While I support the right of couples to end pregancies prior to the baby’s medical viability, an abortion performed after than point can only be described as a killing to which the victim has not – and indeed cannot, considering the “age” factor – consented.
This is being utterly consistent, the exact opposite of what I see from politicians who doggedly follow the party lines regardless of their illogic.