Thursday, June 30, 2011

Roger Ebert on Kervorkian

Here's an excerpt from an relatively nuanced post from Roger Ebert, the Chicago Sun-TImes columnist regarding Jack Kervorkian. The essence of his column, however, was about the HBO film You Don't Know Jack.
"We must conclude that Kevorkian, called "Doctor Death" on the cover of Time magazine, sometimes acted too readily to bring about suicides which were a permanent solution to a temporary problem. He was a flawed men, carried away by belief in his cause. He brought attention, however, to assisted suicide ..." 
As usual, however, there was much mention of "pain" and "terminal illnesses." Like Ebert, I too believe in free will, although I believe more in the free will as espoused by Viktor Frankl.

What none of these advocates or fellow travelers talk about, though, is the "pain" from a long-term mental illness.

Kervorkian killed ("assisted the suicide," if you prefer) people who had disabilities but were depressed rather than in pain or terminal. 

If a person had walked into his lair and asked to be assisted in suicide because he was depressed and Kervorkian had killed him, Kerkvorkian would have lost immeasurable public support. Put that same person in a wheelchair, and everyone cheers at the exercise of free will. 

And no, I don't believe any person should choose suicide (assisted or not) because of depression. 
But I also don't believe that the suicide of a person with a disability should be rationalized.

If you read Ebert's short essay, you should scroll down into the comments and read the one by Stephen Drake of Not Dead Yet. Drake has studied the issue for years.

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