I can't let the moment pass without acknowledging the release -- after 8 years in the Michigan prison system -- of Jack Kevorkian, a former pathologist who performed active euthanasia (a/k/a "murder") on a patient, filmed it, and allowed "60 Minutes"
to air the event (AP, courtesy of Forbes
). ("60 Minutes" will broadcast an interview with Mike Wallace this Sunday.)
He's a ding-bat, to be sure. Even many proponents of physician-assisted suicide cringe at the mention of his name. In the name of physician-assisted suicide ("PAS"), he helped strangers, not patients, kill themselves without ensuring that they were terminally ill, without assessing their mental state, and without seriously exploring less drastic means of addressing the concerns that led these citizens to seek out Kevorkian's services. Most, if not all, of the safeguards built into the Oregon Death With Dignity Act
were routinely ignored in his quest for publicity for his cause. He shone a spotlight on an issue that needed to be examined and debated, but the way he did it might well have set the PAS movement back years, if not more. The New York Times
has a good article
on Kevorkian and the status of PAS around the country.