Already there a paeans to Jack Kevorkian lauding him as a hero; this is presumably because he relived the suffering of the dying. Such descriptions belie ignorance on the part of writers whose main knowledge of the man appears to come from shallow news reports and HBO movies. In reality Jack Kevorkian was a sick and twisted individual, a medical quack, and a convicted murderer who had little interest in helping people.
Kevorkian’s history is certainly problematic for those who would paint him as a compassionate man. He earned the moniker ‘Dr. Death’ not because of his work with euthanasia, but because of his penchant in as a medical student in the ’50s to hover over dying patients in an attempt to watch the light fade from their eyes. Previous to his ‘career’ as a professional euthanizer he sought permission to experiment on condemned death row inmates, permission he was thankfully denied.
And his main motivation appears to have been a pseudo-scientific interest in a term he coined – ‘obitiatry’. He wanted to experiment on dying patients to determine what happened at the moment of death:
If we are ever to penetrate the mystery of death—even superficially—it will have to be through obitiatry. Research using cultured cells and tissues and live animals may yield objective biological data, and eventually perhaps even some clues about the essence of mere vitality or existence. But knowledge about the essence of human death will of necessity require insight into the nature of the unique awareness of or consciousness that characterizes cognitive human life. That is possible only through obitiatric research on living human bodies, and most likely centering on the nervous system…on anesthetized subjects [to] pinpoint the exact onset of extinction of an unknown cognitive mechanism that energizes life.
Prescription: Medicide, p. 214
And it is a myth that he only helped ‘dying’ people. The fact is a number of his subjects weren’t dying, and some didn’t even have serious illnesses. People like Marjorie Wantz, who was in perfect health. Rebecca Badger, who believed she had MS, but didn’t (something ‘Dr’ Kevorkian wouldn’t know as he never worked as an actual doctor). And Judith Curren who appeared to be suffering primarily from depression.
The reality is Kevorkian, like many secularists, didn’t see human life as inherently worthwhile. He considered quadriplegic and paraplegic people to be a burden on society saying about them that “The voluntary self-elimination of individual mortally diseased and crippled lives taken collectively can only enhance the preservation of public health and welfare.”
He was sympathetic with Nazi experimentation writing in a 1986 edition of Medicine and Law:
The so-called Nuremberg Code and all its derivatives completely ignore the extraordinary opportunities for terminal experimentation on humans facing imminent and inevitable death…[including] the extraction of medical benefit from the process of judicial execution from those dying of irremediable illness or trauma and from suicide mandated by inflexible religious or philosophical principles or by irrevocable personal choice. Other potential subjects include comatose, brain dead, or totally incapacitated individuals as well as live fetuses in or out of the womb.
Much more could be said about the detestable activities of this man, but this is certainly enough to repulse even those who were somewhat sympathetic with easing the pain of the dying. The reality is that those who are lauding his life are either ignorant of his true motivations and actions or are themselves so morally corrupted that they no longer see his actions as horrendous.
Either way, it’s good the monster has died.