Kevorkian’s death won’t silence “right-to-die” debate

Megan Wilkinson

At 1 p.m. I walk into Southwest General Hospital with Mom and Grandpa. We visit with Grandma to make sure she feels okay for the day.

She says she feels happier than usual as she eats her lunch: a tray that consists of roast beef, a pile of green beans and a slice of cake. Her primary doctor enters the room, surprised to see company. He smiles at my grandma and tells her things are looking better for her that day.

This same doctor pulls my mom aside to inform her that my grandma will never be able to walk again. He says she would most likely be hospitalized for the rest of her life because of her lung condition and fragile bones.

It’s times like these when I can comprehend why Dr. Kevorkian chose to crusade for death.

To anyone who may not know, Dr. Jack Kevorkian was a Michigan pathologist who assisted with the suicide of at least 130 people during the 90s. He argued that people who are terminally ill should have the choice to kill themselves, instead of suffering a slow death.

Kevorkian helped terminal patients die quicker by administering lethal drugs from the back of his van. Police eventually arrested Kevorkian for second-degree murder in 1999. He was to serve a 10- to 25-year prison sentence but was released in 2007 for good behavior, on the promise that he would never again help assist an individual in dying.

Just over a week ago, Kevorkian passed away from natural causes at the age of 83. This news led to many discussions about his life, his methods and the irony of his death.

For the most part, I think Kevorkian went overboard with his euthanasia

campaign. However, I agree with one of his more widely known mottos: It’s the patient who decides to end his or her life, not the doctor. I feel that if a patient is suffering enough and can clearly explain his or her motives, he or she should be able to request and receive euthanasia.

I know that many people disagree with this procedure, but I feel in certain cases, it is almost better if it’s the patient’s will and decision. Euthanasia is described in the dictionary as the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable disease. It just quickens that individual’s death.

While it may not be natural, some patients may prefer it when death is scheduled. Why prolong a patient’s life if it’s miserable, or if they want it to end? In my opinion, that’s a little abusive to the patient.

With the case of my grandma dying in Southwest General, I feel it almost would have been better for her to die quick, years before she was both home-bound and hospital-ridden. It was difficult the past year for her husband, children, grandchildren and friends to watch her struggle with daily life — simply walking or moving around were difficult for her. She probably wouldn’t have chosen to undergo euthanasia, but at least having the option would allow her to end the pain early, if only this procedure were not frowned upon.

Watching a person suffer until death is torture for family members, friends and the patient. Yes, I do believe fighting for life is great, but there is a time when the suffering is no longer worth it.

Megan Wilkinson is a sophomore news major. Contact her at [email protected].