History of Euthanasia in America
Length: 899 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)
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1973- The American Medical Association issues the Patient Bill of Rights. The groundbreaking document allows patients to refuse medical treatment.
1976- The New Jersey Supreme Court rules that the parents of Karen Ann Quinlan, who has been in a tranquilizer-and-alcohol-induced coma for a year, can remove her respirator. She dies nine years later.
1979- Jo Roman, a New York artist dying of cancer, makes a videotape, telling her friends and family she intends to end her life. She later commits suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills.
1985- Betty Rollin publishes "Last Wish," the story of her mother's battle with ovarian cancer. The book reveals that Ida Rollin killed herself with a sedative overdose. 1990- Dr. Jack Kevorkian performs his first assisted suicide, using a homemade machine, to end the life of Alzheimer's patient Janet Adkins. Meanwhile, after protracted legal wrangling, the parents of Nancy Cruzan, who has been in a coma for seven years, are allowed to remove her feeding tube. Friends and co-workers testify in court that she would not have wanted to live.
1991- Hemlock Society founder Derek Humphry first publishes "Final Exit." The controversial suicide "how-to" book later becomes a national best seller. 1994- Voters in Oregon pass a referendum making it the only state in the country that allows doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs for terminally ill patients. The hotly contested law was not put into effect until last year.
1995- George Delury publishes "But What If She Wants to Die?" a diary chronicling his wife's long battle with multiple sclerosis. The book describes the couple's agonizing decision to end her life with a drug overdose. Delury served four months in prison for attempted manslaughter for his role in her death. 1997- In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court rules that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to commit suicide with the help of a physician. The decision upholds laws in New York and Washington state making it illegal for doctors to give lethal drugs to dying patients.
1998- In November, Michigan voters defeat a measure that would have made physician-assisted suicide legal. Michigan Poll On Dr. Kevorkian and Euthanasia22
1. After watching that segment which showed Jack Kevorkian administering a lethal injection of drugs, do you think it was appropriate or not appropriate for "60 Minutes" to show that scene on television? 56%Appropriate 35% Not appropriate 10% Undecided/Don't know/Refused
2. Did the experience of watching Dr.
Jack Kevorkian cause a man's death influence your opinion about assisted suicide, or would you say that your opinion about assisted suicide was not influenced at all by the "60 Minutes" program? 11%Influenced opinion about assisted suicide 84%DID NOT influence opinion about assisted suicide 5%Undecided/Don't know
3. Did the experience of watching tonight's "60 minute" segment on Jack Kevorkian influence you to be more supportive of assisted suicide or more opposed to assisted suicide? 6%Much more supportive of assisted suicide 31%Somewhat more supportive of assisted suicide 13%Somewhat more opposed to assisted suicide 38%Much more opposed to assisted suicide 12%Undecided/Don't know
4. Generally speaking, do you favor or oppose laws that would allow physician assisted suicide for terminally ill people who are in a sound state of mind? 31%Strongly favor 14%Somewhat favor 10%Somewhat oppose 40%Strongly oppose 5%Undecided/Don't know
5. Dr. Kevorkian has invited law enforcement authorities to arrest him and charge him with a crime for his actions in the death shown on television. What do you think? Should Dr. Jack Kevorkian be arrested and charged with a crime for his actions, or do you think authorities should do nothing? 50%Kevorkian should be arrested and charged 34%Authorities should do nothing 16%Undecided/Don't know
6. If Dr. Kevorkian is arrested for his involvement in the death of the man shown on "60 Minutes," for what crime do you think he should be charged--violating Michigan's new law banning assisted suicide, for committing a more serious crime, such as murder, or for committing a different crime? 30%Violating law banning assisted suicide 45%More serious crime - such as murder 16%Something else 9%Undecided/Don't know
7. If he was charged with violating Michigan's new law banning physician assisted suicide instead of murder, based on what you saw on television tonight, would you find Dr. Jack Kevorkian guilty or not guilty of that crime? 62%Guilty of assisting a suicide 26%Not guilty of assisting a suicide 12%Undecided/Don't know
8. Dr. Jack Kevorkian has publicly stated that he is trying to force the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia by his actions, and, if necessary, he will starve himself in prison to become a martyr for his beliefs. Do you believe that Dr. Kevorkian is doing what must be done for the cause of assisted suicide, do you think he has gone too far and is hurting his cause, or, do you think he should do even more to force changes in assisted suicide laws? 28%Doing what must be done 55%Has gone too far and is hurting his cause 8%Should do even more to force changes 9%Undecided/Don't know
9. In the recent November 3rd election, did you vote YES in favor of Proposal B, the assisted suicide proposal, did you vote NO to oppose it, did you vote in the election but skip that proposal, or were you unable to vote at all on November 3rd? 24%Yes 56%No 5%Did not vote on that proposal 11%Did not vote in the election 2%Can't remember 2%Refused