The ink on Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s death certificate had barely enough time to dry before his right wing socially conservative enemies, (you know, the one’s who liked to call him “Doctor Death” for assisting terminally ill patients end their intolerable lives), came out in full force to excoriate him and vilify his courageous libertarian cause.
Dr. Keith Ablow, a talking head TV psychiatrist, and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, stated it this way in his
6/3/11 Fox News Op Ed piece, What Dr. Jack Kevorkian Didn’t Understand About Death:
“In sum, Kevorkian’s passing is the passing of a singular threat to our civilized way of thinking and our embrace of the value of human life.”
“If Jack Kevorkian (and notice that I do not in this article use ‘Dr.’ in front of his name, ever) did not intuit that [a] slippery slope would certainly manifest itself in America (were assisted suicide widely available) then he was either naive or bloodthirsty. We really can’t know which. What we do know is that he was willing to kill, again and again, even though it was against the law,” Ablow proclaimed from his lofty perch while demonizing the man ad hominem, never having met him, and even dismissing his professional medical credentials.
“Kevorkian seemingly didn’t understand that anyone in America or anywhere else can take his or her life painlessly if that person is utterly determined to do so. Sadly, information is available in books and on the Internet about how to bring about one’s own demise with certainty. No one really needed Kevorkian’s help to leave the earth before God took that person,” concludes Dr. Ablow.
What’s apparent to me though, is that it is Dr. Ablow, not Dr. Kevorkian, who doesn’t understand death; and more to the point, just doesn’t understand basic concepts of liberty.
Here is a so-called scientist, a psychiatrist no less, resorting to religion, (the greatest delusion ever perpetrated upon civilization in the history of mankind), to condemn an equally qualified colleague as irrational. It’s OK with him when “God” takes a person for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter, but not OK if that same person decides to end his own life with the full benefits of professional medical assistance.
It’s the anti-abortion argument all over again, only now at the threshold of death. Women, they insist, should not be at liberty to end unwanted pregnancies with the full benefits of professional medical assistance because matters of life and death are up to God and the state – never individuals under any imaginable circumstances.
What does Dr. Ablow care if people are suffering intolerable pain, or otherwise no longer have any substantial reasons to live? They should all simply wait patiently for God to take them, says this scientist.
But, I’m sure Dr. Ablow knows very well that everyone who has ever lived on planet earth has either died already or is going to die sooner or later. We’re all going to die. The lucky one’s among us will die of old age in their sleep; but some people suffer a long and horribly painful existence before finally succumbing to the inevitability of death. To some of these people, Dr. Kevorkian was ‘Dr Mercy,’ not ‘Dr Death.’
Dr. Ablow perceives two basic problems with Dr. Kevorkian’s, (and the libertarian) view of the proper place for euthanasia in the world.
First, he speculates about whether Dr. Kevorkian’s early childhood had something to do with a fascination for death because his mother fled the Armenian death marches organized by Muslim Turks during the early part of the 20th century. Maybe that is why “he decided to become a pathologist, a medical specialty focused on diseased tissues and ones from dead bodies,” Dr. Ablow conjectures, without a shred of evidence.
“Kevorkian photographed the eyes of dying patients while a pathology resident,” which leads Ablow to believe that his scientific interest in death and dying bordered on an unhealthy obsession that might have turned him into a “serial killer.” “A legitimate question remains whether Kevorkian was a dedicated, though misguided, physician, or a serial killer taking refuge under the mantel of the profession. If a serial killer, he was perhaps the most prolific in the history of the world,” muses Dr. Ablow, while diagnosing the psychological state of a person he has never met.
Second, he posits that physician assisted suicide is an ethically “slippery slope” leading ultimately to the killing of people who really don’t want to die. He once met a Dr. in Amsterdam, where physician-assisted suicide is legal, who told him he would consider assisting in the suicide of an amputee if that person felt life was unbearable without four limbs.
Nonsense! That, and all the other examples he cites are about people who want to die. Every one of Dr. Kevorkian’s patients was terminally ill and wanted desperately to die a merciful dignified death. Physician assisted suicide elsewhere has not led to indiscriminate killing.
“Can you imagine a psychiatrist advising a patient that her desire to commit suicide was rational and that he would offer her a referral to a physician to administer her a lethal injection? That is the world Jack Kevorkian wanted to see.” Yes, Dr. Ablow, if you would only remove your religious goggles for a brief moment, you might understand that sometimes the desire of a free minded person to commit suicide to end her own painful miserable existence is exceedingly well conceived and rational.
“The German government’s embrace of euthanasia before the Holocaust was no accident,” Dr. Ablow pontificates, comparing the demon Kevorkian to Hitler.
The fact is that Dr. Jack Kevorkian was an authentic American hero and champion in the libertarian cause for human freedom – the right to direct one’s own life and death. His memory and sacrifice deserves better from the likes of Dr. Keith Ablow.