Apologetics, In the News

Can We Consider the Physician-Assisted Suicide of “Doctor Death” Jack Kevorkian a “Good Death”?

Jack KevorkianJack Kevorkian, who had been dubbed the moniker “Doctor Death” for his pro-euthanasia views and activism, died without assistance on June 3, 2011, at the age of 83. During the 1980s and 1990s, Kevorkian published articles on physician-assisted deaths; invented devices for suicide, such as the DIY Thanatron “death machine” and the Mercitron “mercy machine”; and even assisted 130 people to end their own lives. In 1998 he was tried and convicted for the “second-degree” murder of Thomas Youk, and imprisoned until his parole in 2007. In an article for Slate entitled, “Life after Kevorkian: He Fought for the Right to Assisted Suicide. Now What Should We do?” William Saletan praises Kevorkian as a person who “fought for the right to assisted suicide.” Yet not everyone would agree. Pointing out the dark side of Kervorkian’s career, in a blog for The Telegraph entitled, “Jack Kevorkian’s Horrible Career Offers a Warning Against Legalising Euthanasia,” Tim Stanley points to the facts that “some patients died in the back of Kevorkian’s van. The gassing procedure didn’t always go smoothly, leading to unnecessary suffering and panic. Dead bodies were left behind in motels, sometimes two at a time” and that “Kevorkian was not trained as a psychiatrist and made judgment calls about people’s mental state that were subjective.”

The issue of physician-assisted suicide is not dead. For example, euthanasia is explored in the popular television series House in an episode entitled “The Dig.” Dr. Remy Hadley “Thirteen” (Olivia Wilde), who suffers from Huntington’s chorea, shares about her own dark secret of euthanizing her own brother who had suffered from the same nerve-degenerating disease at a more advanced stage. Her greatest fear, however, is over the fact that when her time comes, there will be no one for her. After uncovering Thirteen’s secret, the brash nihilistic diagnostician Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) says that he would kill her when the time comes.

Is the idea of a “quality of life” a good way of determining whether or not a person can commit suicide? How does idea of “quality of life” square with the biblical teaching on the image of God in man, which implies humans have intrinsic worth and value in spite of their circumstances? How is the Christian to think about euthanasia?

Is euthanasia ever permissible?

Kevorkian: A Glimpse Into The Future Of Euthanasia?

The Euthanasia Debate (Part 1): Understanding the Issues

The Euthanasia Debate (Part 2): Assessing the Options

Did Early Christians “Lust After Death”? A New Wrinkle in the Doctor-Assisted Suicide Debate

— Warren Nozaki, Research