Monday, June 04, 2007

"Dr. Death" is out of prison

Jack Kevorkian, aka "Dr. Death", is out of prison after having served his 8 year sentence. And he ain't a happy man. During his time in prison, he sees that his pet cause of assisted suicide has not advanced beyond the state of Oregon. And folks, let's pray that this man never sees his pet cause advance any more than it has already. Pray, actually, that it retreats to the point of going away.

You've heard the term "assisted suicide" before. It's also called "death with dignity". This was especially brought to light in 2005 when Terri Schiavo was all over the news. To refresh your memory, Terri was the woman who was disabled and lying in a hospital while her husband and her parents fought over who would care for her. Her husband won out, and Terri was subjected to a slow death by starvation for two weeks until she passed away. As I often tell "death with dignity" advocates, tell me what's so dignified about being starved to death for two weeks. I've said before in this blog that I find such practices barbaric.

No doubt, Kervorkian would reply to my observation above that he could have prevented the whole public spectacle of a starvation death by the use of his "suicide machine". Why wait over two weeks, when the matter could be settled in minutes? But ultimately, it doesn't matter if death is brought about in two minutes or two weeks. And it doesn't matter if it's called "assisted suicide", "physician assisted suicide", "death with dignity", or "passive euthanasia", it's still different labels for the same thing: the deliberate ending of a life deemed "not worth living".

Does the phrase "life not worth living" sound familiar? It's from your history class - specifically Nazi Germany - who used the term to justify the extermination of those they deemed as useless; usually the mentally and physically disabled (this was before they had moved on to the Jews and other races that they later killed in the Holocaust). The promotion and acceptance of euthanasia promotes exactly that: life not worth living.

Proponents of euthanasia will NEVER state it that way, but that's what they mean. And they'll appeal to your compassionate and sympathetic side by saying that "we are only trying to end the suffering of those who are close to death and are in terrible agony." Don't buy it, folks. It may start out as being only for those close to death, but it WILL move beyond such people if we let it. Maybe if I tell you who would be the immediate beneficiary of the passage of laws that legalize euthanasia, then you'll have second thoughts about it: the health insurance industries (HMOs from here on).

Think about the times that you've gone to the doctor or the emergency room, and later found out that your HMO didn't cover this or that, and you later got sent the bills. If you're like me, you got bits and pieces of bills that arrived after your HMO had filtered your bill and decided that it wouldn't cover this or that. Why do you pay for that health insurance? It's to help cover your medical expenses, right? And as much as you pay, they still won't pay for some of your medical needs. They are, after all, a for-profit organization, and they have their bottom line to consider.

Now think about how HMOs would put legalized euthanasia to work for them. If they are a for-profit organization, and the bottom line matters to them, it is a short stretch for them to decide that they won't pay for expensive medical procedures if you're close to death anyway, so they opt for "death with dignity" to cut their expenses. Oh? You don't think that a for-profit organization would put profit ahead of morals or ethics? What side of Enron and WorldCom are you on, anyway?

Folks, if euthanasia is legalized, don't doubt for a second that the lawyers for HMOs would fight for the right to decide the "death with dignity" option for when one of their clients starts to become a financial drain. If you're a liberal, then the idea of a corporation and lawyers working together to protect their bottom line should make you wet your pants. Actually, it should make anyone wet their pants. But it's not just because HMOs would benefit that we should oppose legalized euthanasia - however it may be defined.

All life is of equal worth, and it should be treated as such, from our conception to our natural death. And yes, we do all die. And not being in favor of ending life before its natural end does not mean that we must extend it indefinitely, beyond when that life would have naturally expired. But I don't think our culture is in any danger of trying too hard to keep someone alive - rather, it's more inclined to expediency and convenience. Instead of looking for ways to get past the moral and ethical dilemmas of when to end the support of a life that's close to death, we should be examining WHY it's so important for us to find ways to get past the moral and ethical dilemmas of when to end the support of a life that's close to death.

We are, after all, talking about a human life, no matter how frail and fragile it is. The strength of the foundation of our civilization is determined by how we treat the least among us, and right now, we have a pretty sorry track record, what with legalized abortion and all. So I ask, if we have that great a difficulty of seeing why legalized abortion is wrong, what makes us think that legalizing euthanasia will help set us right? We were rushed into legalized abortion by Roe vs. Wade, which cut off very needed discussion and debate. Now even some supporters of Roe are seeing that (though the majority of them still don't support overturning it).

So if rushing into Roe was wrong, why would rushing into legalized euthanasia be right? So far, we haven't rushed into it, much to Kevorkian's annoyance. Good for us. And I say let's keep disappointing Jack Kevorkian. Even though a human life may be in a coma, that doesn't mean that all hope is lost. Miracles do happen, as we recently saw in the news of the man who awoke from a coma after 19 years. His story should be told at every debate over legalized euthanasia. Read his story, and see the sort of love story that we would have missed had that man's wife given in to pleas to end his life.

And then after that, maybe you'll see why we need to keep Jack Kevorkian's dream from ever coming true.

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