Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The real Jack Kevorkian

I was working on last minute preparations before the opening of the Third International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (June 3) when I received a phone call asking me for comments concerning the death of Jack Kevorkian. All I could say is that I offer condolences to his family and friends and that I wanted the world to remember the real Jack Kevorkian.

During the past few years, friends and euthanasia advocates have been working overtime to create a new Jack. Books and plays have been written, and a movie staring Al Pacino was titled: "You Don’t Know Jack."

Many people have suggested that Jack was a reliever of suffering but an analysis by the Detroit Free Press found that of his 130 victims, at least 60% of them were depressed or living with disabilities, 17 of the victims did not have a condition that would lead to death, 13 had no signs of any pain and five had no signs of an illness.

Jack should have been stopped early in his campaign.

Janet Adkins, Kevorkian’s first victim, had Alzheimer disease. Jack accepted her as his first case after speaking to Janet’s husband. Unlike most of his victims, Jack spoke to Adkins psychiatrist, Dr. Murray Raskind who told Jack that Janet was not competent to make a decision to end her life. Jack gave her a lethal dose in his van.

Jack’s second lethal dose was administered to Marjorie Wantz (58), who had unexplained vaginal pain. Wantz had a long history of depression and other psychiatric problems. When Wantz responded in an ambivalent manner to the concept of suicide, Jack stated to her: "You sound like your in pain." When she replied that she was in pain, Jack went ahead with death by lethal dose.

An autopsy found that Wantz had no condition that could have caused the pain.

Some other victims include:

Rebecca Badger (39), a single mother of two who had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and psychiatric and emotional problems. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but an autopsy found no sign of the disease.

Lisa Lansing (42), a single medical malpractice attorney, complained for more than a decade of pain in her digestive system. Doctors in New Jersey could not find a medical problem. One physician said he refused to treat Lansing because she was interested mainly in obtaining prescription painkillers.

Judith Curren (42), a registered nurse who had not worked in 10 years, lived with a muscle disorder, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. She complained of being physically abused by her husband, a psychiatrist. He claimed that he had fought to prevent her suicide. The couple was deeply in debt. Curren was also overweight and had been bedridden for up to two weeks at a time. There were no signs of illness.

Was Kevorkian different from the rest of the euthanasia lobby?

Hemlock Society founder, Derek Humphry, has been providing the contact information for GLADD a California mail order business that distributes plastic suicide bags that recently resulted in the death of Oregon citizen Nick Klonski (29) who lived with chronic depression for many years.

Several years ago the suicide activist, Rev George Exoo, was featured in a British film documentary titled: "Reverend Death." When Jon Ronson, the film maker, investigated how Exoo found so many depressed people to assist their suicides, he interviewed Humphry who admitted that when a person who appeared depressed contacts him for suicide information that he refers the person to Exoo.

Jack Kevorkian personified the euthanasia lobby. His radical comments and weird quirks made him appear different from the others but after examining the comments by other leaders in the euthanasia lobby, you must conclude that Jack represented them well. It is dangerous for society to rewrite the history of Jack.

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