You Dont Know Jack

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The Case for Euthanasia

You Dont Know Jack (2010)Director: Writer: Stars:Barry Levinson Adam Mazer Al Pacino, Brenda Vaccaro and John Goodman

Based on a true story of a Michigan doctor who assisted around 130 terminally ill patients in suicide.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian is a revolutionary figure in the field of medical science and humanities. He was an advocate of Euthanasia, and this film is based on his fight for the freedom to choose death. The film starts with him discussing Euthanasia with his sister, Margo. He tries to explain his point of view to fellow doctors who become morbid at the mere thought of it. He even explains the working of his suicide machine to a cancer patient in the hospital, in the presence of other doctors. Unfortunately the doctors ask him to leave when the patient is distressed. He silently starts spreading the word around and gets his first patient in 1990, Janet Adkins, a 54year-old woman from Portland, Oregon, who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Jack videotaped her and her husband who both agreed it was better to end her life before she deteriorated to an extent that she wouldnt even recognize herself in the mirror. After a long discussion with his sister he decides to do the job. He goes to a society meeting of the Hemlock Society where he meets its president, Janet Good. The Hemlock Society is a society in US that advocates Mercy killing. Dr. Jack along with his best friend Neal Nicol, his sister Margo Kevorkian assisted Janet Adkins in suicide. This started off a series of events where Dr. Kevorkian was indicted of murder. His sister suggested a lawyer, a Mr. Geoffrey Fieger who aired on medical malpractice commercials. Mr. Fieger decided to work for free for the doctor and the case never went to court because the Michigan law did not consider assisted suicide a crime. The Janet Adkins case however gave Dr. Kevorkian a lot of fame and he was invited to speak on a radio show where he very convincingly advocated his case. Janet Good, the president of the Hemlock Society worked to make Euthanasia legalized and one of the lines that struck me in this movie was when she while addressing to an audience said we need to define terminally ill. This clearly indicated that the issue of Euthanasia was taken very systematically by her. The prosecutor, Mr. Watson was a deeply religious man and believed that Euthanasia was against the rule of God. He therefore filed a case on Dr. Jack every chance he got (nine times). Dr. Jack was banned from medical practice for 15 months after he helped Hugh Gale, his 14 th patient, commit suicide in 1993 and was imprisoned and fined $50,000 after his 16th patient, Thomas Hyde (he was later released when his lawyer paid his bail). There were instances during Dr. Kevorkians career as Dr. Death where people approached him because they were clinically depressed or of old age but Dr. Kevorkian refused to help them end their life. Activists protested outside his house, his sister lost her job, he was imprisoned and yet 2

The Case for Euthanasia he continued to fight for the right to die. His medical license was cancelled a year after he helped Janet Adkins and he was forbidden to use lethal injections, whereupon he started using poisonous gas which was just as quick. Dr. Kevorkian was painfully honest in his medical reports, stating each and every fact as clearly as it had happened. Human Rights Activists and the prosecutor often tried to use this against him but since the law was, in Fiegers words, poorly worded it did not play against him. During his work, his sister passed away due to a heart attack and Janet Good was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was helped by Dr. Jack to end her life through Euthanasia. In his sisters memory he opened his Mercy clinic, Margo Janus Mercy Clinic, where he helped people commit suicide. Dr. Kevorkian continuously asked his lawyer to take his case up to the Supreme Court because he was confident he could convince the court that his actions were morally right. He called himself compassionate, while others called him a murderer. He believed that the hospitals and the drug companies made a living out of keeping people alive not caring about the pain they were in. He revealed to Janet Good that he had seen his mother die an extremely painful death due to cancer and he was unable to help her out. Fieger knew that taking Kevorkians case to the Supreme Court would result in a definite failure. However Dr. Kevorkian was adamant and he fired Fieger. In all Dr. Jack assisted on around 130 suicides, the last one being Thomas Youk a patient in the last stages of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He videotaped the entire procedure of Euthanasia and sent it to a television show 60 minutes, and this was shown on the national television. This was also the first time that Dr. Jack had himself administered lethal injection to a patient rather than letting the patient end his life himself. When convicted of first degree murder charge Dr. Jack decided to fight his own case with a legal counsel. The judge however did not allow the testimony of witnesses (Thomas Youks wife testified in the absence of the jury and his brother flew all the way from France to testify to Dr. Kevorkians innocence) and Dr. Kevorkian lost the case. The jury found him guilty of second degree murder and the judge gave him the maximum sentence of 10-25 years of imprisonment. The judge in her summarizing speech told the doctor that if the doctor did not find the law to be correct he should have tried to challenge it the legal way and not take matters in his own hands. Jack served 8 1/ 2 years in prison. His appeals were rejected but he was finally released in 2007 on parole due to old age (he was 79 years old) and his promise to try and challenge the law the legal way. The United States Supreme Court refused to hear his case.


The Case for Euthanasia

Euthanasia: is it ethical?Introduction: Euthanasia (also known as mercy killing) is painless death induced through artificial means. There are three kinds of Euthanasia: Voluntary Euthanasia Involuntary Euthanasia Non-voluntary Euthanasia Voluntary Euthanasia is when the patient himself gives consent to the doctor to help him die. This is the kind of Euthanasia which is greatly debated on in the world and will also be discussed in this paper. Involuntary Euthanasia is one where the patient does not give consent but the doctor or the family member themselves end his suffering due to compassion. This is extremely rare. This was also the base for genocide during the Nazi Regime. Non-voluntary Euthanasia is where the patient is unable to give his consent due to his condition. In such extreme situations, a patient is either comatose or completely paralyzed. The family members of the patient either due to financial constraints or emotional toll are unable to bear the patients pain and end their life. History: The Hippocratic Oath (Hippocrates, around 400 BC) is necessary for every physician and states I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel However history shows us that euthanasia has been widely practiced in ancient Greek and Rome. The first law against assisted killing, known as anti-euthanasia, was passed in New York in 1828. In 1870 Samuel Williams, an American physician suggested intake of morphine and other medicines to induce quick painless death. This was rejected by the American Medical Association in 1885. Euthanasia was legalized in Ohio in 1905 and 1906 but failed both times. In 1935 the Euthanasia Society of England was formed to promote euthanasia. In the same year the first group for legalization of euthanasia, called Voluntary Euthanasia Legislation Society (VELS), was founded by a group of doctors in London. In 1938, a similar organization, known as National Society for the Legalization of Euthanasia (NSLE) came into existence. In 1940s The Nazi Regime indulged in genocide using the concept of involuntary euthanasia. The 1980s marked the formation of World Federation of Right to Die Societies, an international federation for supporting voluntary mercy killing. In the same year, Hemlock Society led by Derek Humphry was founded in Los Angeles, United States. The 1990s was a revolutionary year for this debate when many states legalized Euthanasia. Among these were Oregon (1998), Netherlands (2000) and Belgium (2002), Luxemburg and Washington.


The Case for Euthanasia My Stance on Euthanasia: History is ridden with examples if people who were assisted in death by their physicians due to irreversible health conditions. Hugo Claus, author of Sorrow of Belgium, asked his physician to end his life because he was suffering from Alzheimers. Sigmund Freud the famous psychoanalyst suffered for years from jaw and throat cancer and asked his physician to end his life. King George V is another example of death by voluntary euthanasia. Terry Schiavo was a woman who after an iced tea diet was in a vegetative state with no hopes of recovery and was relived of her suffering by removing her feeding tube. It is very easy to condemn Euthanasia, but on those same moral grounds that it has been condemned I ask, how can anyone understand the pain and agony of an