The Dilemma of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

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The Dilemma of Euthanasia Jack Kevorkian, serving a 10-to-25-year prison sentence for second-degree murder for giving a lethal injection to Thomas Youk, was honored as a humanitarian on April 10. Kevorkian received the Gleitsman Foundation's Citizen Activist Award in ceremonies at Harvard University. Foundation president Alan Gleitsman calls him "a selfless believer in death with dignity" who "sacrificed his medical license and now his own freedom toward that cause." With Kevorkian unable to attend, the award was accepted for him by one of those who nominated him -- his victim's wife, Melody Youk. Kevorkian will share the $100,000 award with Alabama attorney Bryan Stevenson, a crusader against the death penalty. Kevorkian has long favored allowing execution by lethal experiments or removal of a prisoner's vital organs. What is happening here? At Harvard University a famous euthanasia-doctor receives a gift of $100,000. What's wrong with this picture? Numerous US studies have established that the Americans most directly affected by the issue of physician-assisted suicide -- those who are frail, elderly and suffering from terminal illness -- are also more opposed to legalizing the practice than others are: * A poll conducted for the Washington Post on March 22-26, 1996, found 50% support for legalizing physician-assisted suicide (Washington A18) Voters aged 35-44 supported legalization, 57% to 33%. But these figures reversed for voters aged 65 and older, who opposed legalization 54% to 38%. Majority opposition was also found among those with incomes under $15,000 (54%), and black Americans (70%). * An August 1993 Roper poll funded by the Hemlock Society and other euthanasia sup... ... middle of paper ... ...d suicide: attitudes and experiences of oncology patients, oncologists, and the public." 347 The Lancet 1805 (June 29, 1996):1809 Humphry, Derek. "What's in a word?" Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization 1993, Table 1-A. Koenig, Dr. Harold et al.. "Attitudes of Elderly Patients and their Families Toward Physician-Assisted Suicide." 156 Archives of Internal Medicine 2240 (Oct. 28, 1996) Lee v. Oregon, 891 F.Supp. 1429 (D. Or. 1995), vacated on other grounds, 107 F.3d 1382 (9th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 118 S. Ct. 328 (1997). "Poll Shows More Would Support Law Using Gentler Language," TimeLines (Jan.-Feb. 1994):9 Washington v. Glucksberg, 117 S. Ct. 2258, 2262 n. 7 (1997. -- -- --. 117 S. Ct. at 2272, quoting United States v. Rutherford, 442 U.S. 544, 558. 1979. Washington Post, April 4, 1996.

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