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Ethical and Moral considerations of Dr. Kevorkian - Essay Example

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The Ethical and Moral Considerations of Dr. Kevorkian All modern societies abide by a certain set of decided rules. These rules are called laws, and in general, are enforced to maintain a sense of regulation and normalcy, in an attempt to make human life more dignified and more pleasant…
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Ethical and Moral considerations of Dr. Kevorkian
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Download file to see previous pages While ethics are generally constituted and decided against basic principles of humanity, even those principles are subject to debate, and when that so happens, so do the ethics that are based on them. Examples of such situations are seen often throughout society, and one very famous example is that of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, otherwise known as Dr. Death. Born on May 26, 1928 to Armenian immigrants residing in Michigan, Kevorkian graduated from medical school in 1952. He came to national attention in 1990 when he was accused of assisting a 45 year old woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease to commit suicide. Janet Adkins was the first of about 130 terminally ill people who Kevorkian would go on to assist to their death. Kevorkian's assistance consisted not of directly killing the patient, but rather by counseling these patients and then, once confirming their desire to commit suicide, creating a device which would allow the patient to kill themselves, by the simple press of button. In most cases, this device was a machine that consisted of three cylinders of dripping fluid, one being a harmless saline solution, one being a painkiller to numb the soon to occur pain, and the final one being the poison that would ultimately cause the patient's heart to fail, a solution of highly concentrated potassium chloride. Other patients were assisted by providing them with a gas mask fed with Carbon Monoxide. The first of his patients – or victim, depending on how you see it – was Adkins, who contacted him in response to seeing a report about the doctor on television, with a desire to end her life. After a short counseling session, Kevorkian agreed and in the back of his Volkswagen, in a park, he connected the machine to Adkins through an intravenous needle, and allowed her to press the button which would get the fluids moving from the machine into her blood. In five minutes Adkins was dead and Kevorkian was the face of national frenzy. As Kevorkian saw it, he was not a murderer in any light at all. Rather, he considered himself to be, and indeed was, a strong supported of a human's 'Right to Die' and as a result, saw himself as an assistance to the deliverance of that right (1998). The Right to Die is an age old concept, and basically says that since an individual's life is as much as his own as his body, he has the right to do exactly what he wishes to do with it, which includes living by his own choice as well as dying by it. The right does not relate to general suicide, but rather, it is considered applicable in situations where the owner of that life may be suffering from a terminal illness and committing suicide might make the suffering of that illness shorter. Supporters of the right say that as the person is expected to die in any case, it makes no sense to prolong his suffering, and it is only ethical to do the inverse. But who has the right to shorten that suffering and under what conditions. How far does this right extend, and indeed, how much ownership do we actually have over lives? Those are issues that are often under debate in context to the issue. What Kevorkian did was not unheard of. Assisted suicide is indeed an age-old concept, with physician-assisted suicide being defined as, 'when a physician provides either equipment or medication, or informs the patient of the most efficacious use of already available means, for the sole purpose of assisting the patient to end his or her own ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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