Good grief. Barbara Walters vividly illustrates how incompetently the media usually reported the Kevorkian story. I mean, way back in 1992 she was already worried about K’s monicker, “Dr. Death,” apparently oblivious that he was called that because during medical school because he would haunt the hospital wards taking photos of patients as they died. And note that she gets the prison story all wrong. He didn’t want them to be able to donate organs–he wanted to experiment on prisoners as they were being executed! Simple facts should not be that difficult to get right. Bloomberg’s obit did.
But here’s where she really missed the boat:
Walters: What he hoped his legacy would be, the ‘Dr. Life’ would be, is that certain hospitals would have areas with the right doctors, with the psychiatrists, knowing that there were patients for whom there was no hope, that there would then be assisted suicide, but that it would be legitimate and that it would be compassionate. That is what he wanted and he was willing to go to jail to make that happen.
What utter nonsense. He didn’t want euthanasia limited to patients in hospitals with “no hope.” To the contrary, he wanted death-on-demand–including Jonestown situations, as I quoted “Dr. Life” in an earlier K obituary review.
Moreover, euthanasia for K wasn’t even primarily about the relief of suffering, but utilitarian benefit to society from experiments and organ harvesting. Here’s how he described it on page 202-03 of Prescription Medicide:
This disjointed research activity [human experimentation] at the fringes of law and and morality could be centralized, rationally organized, well controlled and ethically validated in official “suicide centers” created specifically for the good of moribund subjegs by affording them a serene, dignified death as well as a proper atmosphere for proper completely ethical manipulations. The latter objectives, such as getting their organs and doing experiments on them, would then by beyond reproach…I coined the word obitorium (from the Latin obitus, meaning “to go meet death”) for the center, and obitiatry… using iatros (meaning “doctor” in Greek) for the specialty. Logically, its practitioner would be called an obitiatrist.
That was Kevorkian’s overriding passion, that was what motivated his entire assisted suicide campaign, and indeed, getting from AS to obitiatry was the ultimate point of all that he did all along.
Here’s how I connected those dots in the July 6, 1996 Weekly Standard, after K ripped out the kidneys from the body of one of his assisted suicides. From “The Serial Killer as Folk Hero:”
Kevorkian has embarked on a three-pronged campaign to destroy traditional American medical ethics, a campaign that also gives him free rein to indulge his twisted obsessions. The first phase was to make “assisted suicide” seem routine and even banal, not so much to relieve suffering (which he called “an early distasteful professional obligation”) as to make “possible the performance of invaluable experiments or other beneficial medical acts under conditions that this first unpleasant step can help establish.” Phase Two, which he has now entered, is to harvest organs from his dead victims and offer them for use in transplants. This is intended to make the voluntary killing of despairing disabled and sick people seem beneficial to society. The third and final phase: Use assisted-suicide victims as experimental “subjects” before they die — in other words, human vivisection.
Getting from phase 2 to phase 3 required euthanasia–which was why he lethally injected Youk instead of assisting his suicide, resulting in the murder conviction. I shudder to think of what would have happened if that last jury was fooled like the previous ones and found him not guilty of a crime he had clearly committed.
With “journalists” like Walters, who needs novelists?