The Unjust Imprisonment of Dr. Jack Kevorkian
May 29, 2007
Irvine, CA--Assisted-suicide practitioner and advocate Jack Kevorkian will be paroled on June 1 after eight years of imprisonment for assisting in the suicide of a terminal patient suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease.
"Dr. Kevorkian's imprisonment was a great injustice," said Thomas Bowden, a practicing attorney and a writer for the Ayn Rand Institute. "He would never have been convicted of murder if Michigan law had allowed a defense based on irrefutable, objective evidence of consent. Dr. Kevorkian should be honored for his courageous stand in defense of the right of individuals suffering from devastating terminal diseases to end their lives with the assistance of a trusted doctor."
Before his conviction, Kevorkian claimed to have assisted in the suicide of 130 patients. Now he has vowed to work for the legalization of assisted suicide across the country while not practicing it himself.
"Hopefully," said Thomas Bowden, "Dr. Kevorkian will be successful nationwide in promoting the right to commit suicide with voluntary physician assistance. Currently, only Oregon has set forth clear procedures by which doctors can insulate themselves from criminal prosecution while easing their dying patients' pain and suffering."
"What lawmakers and judges must grasp," added Bowden, "is that there is no rational basis upon which the government can properly prevent an individual from choosing to end his own life. Our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness means that we need no one's permission to live, and that no one may forcibly obstruct our efforts to achieve personal happiness. But if happiness becomes impossible to attain, due to a dread disease or some other calamity, a person must be able to exercise the right to end his own life."
"To hold otherwise--to declare that society must give us permission to commit suicide--is to contradict the right to life at its root," said Bowden. "If we have a duty to go on living, despite our better judgment, then our lives do not belong to us, and we exist by permission, not by right.
"For these reasons, each individual has the right to decide the hour of his death and to implement that solemn decision as best he can. The choice is his because the life is his. And if a doctor is willing--not forced--to assist in the suicide, based on an objective assessment of his patient's mental and physical state, the law should not stand in his way."
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Thomas A. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, focusing on legal issues. A former lawyer and law school instructor who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland, his Op-Eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other newspapers. Mr. Bowden has given dozens of radio interviews and has appeared on the Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes.
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