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Culture

Kevorkian Was a Ghoul, Not a Compassionate Doctor

The revisionism about Jack Kevorkian, who assisted the suicides of about 130 people–and murdered Thomas Youk by lethal injection–the video of which he immediately took to 60 Minutes, continues.

Now the Washington Post reports that his archives show he only helped kill the terminally ill. From the story:

Kevorkian’s ghoulish reputation is belied by the videotaped consultations in the archive. They show Kevorkian turning down many people seeking assistance and only signed on after he spoke to them and their family members and was assured of their terminal state

One problem with that: Whatever his interviews may show, it isn’t true that he limited his assisted suicides to the dying.

According to autopsies, about 70% of Kevorkian’s customers–remember he was a pathologist, not a treating physician who only saw people wanting to kill themselves, so they can hardly be called patients–were NOT terminally ill. Most were disabled and depressed.

Indeed, Kevorkian assisting the suicides of the depressed disabled to general societal applause was what brought the disability rights community actively into the struggle against legalizing assisted suicide.

Five of Kevorkian’s death customers weren’t even ill, according to their autopsies. And this was true from the beginning. Kevorkian’s second death, Marjorie Wantz, complained of pelvic pain but had no determinable illness.

Moreover, Kevorkian was NOT IN IT FOR THE “COMPASSION.” He was ghoul who wanted to conduct human vivisection as he described in his 1992 book, Prescription Medicide (my emphasis:)

I feel it is only decent and fair to explain my ultimate aim. … It is not simply to help suffering or doomed persons kill themselves — that is merely the first step, an early distasteful professional obligation (now called medicide) that nobody in his or her right mind would savor. …

What I find most satisfying is the prospect of making possible the performance of invaluable experiments or other beneficial medical acts under conditions that this first unpleasant step can help establish.

His goal was pure quackery. Again from Prescription Medicide:

If we are ever to penetrate the mystery of death—even superficially—it will have to be through obitiatry.

Research using cultured cells and tissues and live animals may yield objective biological data, and eventually perhaps even some clues about the essence of mere vitality or existence.

But knowledge about the essence of human death will of necessity require insight into the nature of the unique awareness of or consciousness that characterizes cognitive human life. That is possible only through obitiatric research on living human bodies, and most likely centering on the nervous system…on anesthetized subjects [to] pinpoint the exact onset of extinction of an unknown cognitive mechanism that energizes life.

Kevorkian never quite got there, but he came close. He ripped out the kidneys of Joseph Tushkowski–a quadriplegic ex cop–and held a press conference offering them to the public, “First come, first served.”

In this regard, it is worth noting that Kevorkian tried to gain access to condemned prisoners upon which to experiment for several years. It was only when he was kicked out of every prison that he turned his attention to the sick, and more emphatically, the disabled.

Jack Kevorkian was a ghoul, a quack, and a narcissist. That was his problem.

Now, he’s dead and gone. The fact that so many refuse to see the real Kevorkian–and that the media work so hard to forget the history of his real goals and agendas–I am afraid, is our problem.

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