] Mona Charen
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Jewish World Review April 28, 1999 /12 Iyar, 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen
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Kevorkian is stopped

(JWR) ---- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com)
ONE MIGHT ALMOST THINK that Jack Kevorkian wanted to be punished. His death trade had been tooling along nicely with more than 100 victims to his credit and scarcely a raised eyebrow from the authorities. The newspapers gave his assisted suicides perfunctory coverage, with the exception of one particularly grisly body he deposited at the morgue.

(Kevorkian had ripped the man's kidneys out, tying off the blood vessels with dirty string.)

Perhaps Kevorkian couldn't bear to be out of the headlines for so long and therefore viewed Thomas Youk as an opportunity. Youk's death was different from any of Kevorkian's previous efforts in two ways. First, it was broadcast live on national television. Second, Kevorkian himself administered the deadly dose of drugs instead of permitting the "suicide" to pull a lever that would release the chemicals into an intravenous line.

It was about as direct a challenge to the state of Michigan as could be imagined. Dr. Death had been at war with official Michigan for many years. It began when the state revoked his medical license, continued with four criminal prosecutions (three of which ended in acquittals and one in an intentional mistrial), and went further still with a law passed by the legislature making it a crime to assist someone who is killing himself.

Within the past two years, pro-euthanasia forces succeeded in putting mercy killing on the ballot. It was defeated 2-1.

Kevorkian, who regards anyone who disagrees with him as either stupid or malevolent or both, was finding it hard to live with the decision of Michigan voters that mercy killing ought to remain a crime. And so he found the ideal way to thumb his nose at them -- he enlisted "60 Minutes" and virtually invited the state to arrest him.

It did. The producers of "60 Minutes" were fortunate to escape the charge of aiding and abetting a murder, but that's another matter.

Blinded by zealotry, Kevorkian then made another mistake. He elected to serve as his own attorney.

Kevorkian has always believed that his claims of righteousness are incontrovertible. His was the humanitarian approach to sickness and dying, he claimed. His "patients" had terminal illnesses and came to him in desperation, knowing that assisted suicide was their only escape from weeks or months of pain and suffering.

But, as a jury finally decided, those claims were false.

In the first place, not all of Kevorkian's victims were terminally ill. Many listed multiple sclerosis as their reason for seeking death. MS is not fatal. Others were not sick at all. Rebecca Badger was 39 when Kevorkian helped her to kill herself. She had told him that she suffered from MS. But after her death, the coroner who performed the autopsy announced that she did not have the disease. "I can show you every slice from her brain and spinal cord," he said, "and she doesn't have a bit of MS. She looked robust, fairly healthy. Everything else is in order -- except she's dead."

Another of the women who sought out Kevorkian's services had been beaten by her husband in the days before she killed herself with the good doctor's help.

It isn't that assisted-suicide advocates have no arguments. There are some very hard cases that make the rigid foreclosure against hastening death seem cruel. But assisted suicide is not the answer. Those who truly want to end suffering offer palliative care, psychiatric treatment (we can treat depression; we can't bring people back from the dead), and loving support.

Assisted suicide slips very readily into the scary, immoral world of pushing inconvenient people toward an early grave. What begins as an effort to deal with the hard cases of severe suffering very quickly degenerates into a pattern of serving the convenience of people other than the patient -- an exhausted spouse, stressed-out children or the wider society (the Hemlock Society believes sick, elderly people should be euthanized to save health-care dollars for younger people).

This is exactly what has happened in Holland, where the elderly carry "passports for life" in their wallets to avoid euthanasia if they should happen to be hospitalized.

Thanks to one Michigan jury, and a tough judge whose sentence concluded with "Consider yourself stopped," we have taken a step back from that abyss.


04/26/99: "Senseless tragedy"?
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04/15/99: Hooray for the NYPD
04/09/99: How to do something about taxes
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03/31/99: The Flower Child goes to war
03/29/99: Foreign-policy meltdown
03/25/99: 'Just doin' it'
03/22/99: Return of pay equity?
03/16/99: St. Hillary
03/10/99: Rodney King in perspective
03/08/99: Monica's story: No morals
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3/02/99: Tuning our racial sensitivities
2/27/99: Cease-fire in war between sexes?
2/23/99: Where were the religious voices?
2/19/99: Depends what you mean by "acting"
2/17/99: As Minn., goes so goes the nation?
2/09/99: Prepare for post-impeachment spin
2/03/99: Teaching morality
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1/22/99: The vulgar decade
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1/11/99: Who invented politics of personal destruction?
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12/18/98: Wag the country
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12/07/98: Stranger in a strange land
12/02/98: Dangerous ground
11/30/98: Involuntary fatherhood?
11/24/98: Lies, damned lies, and sex lies
11/18/98: Another victory for cowardice
11/16/98: Separatism plus welfarism equals a dead end
11/10/98: Did conservatism lose campaign '98?
11/06/98: Democrat venality, Republican timidity
11/04/98: Are girls being shortchanged?
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10/28/98: What 'Measure 58' would do
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10/20/98: Using Matthew Shepard's murder
10/19/98: The school voucher that saved a family
10/14/98: Are powerful women different?
10/09/98: Can just sex be impeachable?
10/07/98: Repeal Miranda
10/02/98: Understanding the polls
10/01/98: What school texts teach about marriage
9/28/98: Fear of choice
9/23/98: A fork in the road: Bubba's fate and ours
9/18/98: Christianity and the Holocaust
9/16/98: The national dirty joke
9/11/98: Are we in crisis?
9/09/98: Does Burton's sin let Clinton off the hook?
9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
7/10/98: Guns as the solution?
7/8/98: Teacher preacher
7/6/98: The China behind the headlines
7/1/98: What is the First Amendment for?
6/26/98: The Republican city
6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1999, Creators Syndicate