Dr. Death is Dead

Notorious serial killer Jack Kervorkian died of natural causes this morning. You may think I am being harsh by calling him a serial killer, but I don’t agree. The man was a murderer who found he could get away with his crimes, and get fans and supporters, by pretending they were acts of compassion. Even if I am wrong about his motives, what he did was still evil and unsettling.

I oppose euthanasia for one simple reason. It is cheaper and easier to kill the sick than to cure them. I do not believe in the idea that wise and compassionate experts can help people make decisions about end of life care, impartially and with their best interests in mind. I tend to have a lower opinion of human nature than that. If we ever become the sort of society in which “assisted suicide” is accepted, then the sick, the old, and the handicapped are going to come under a lot of pressure to agree to have themselves killed. This may seem horribly unlikely now, that someone would urge Grandma to off herself, but people have a way of justifying the worst evils to themselves. No doubt they would tell themselves that Grandma is old and sick and would be better off dead. Or, that child with some handicap will never lead a “normal” life so it would be better for him to be euthanised.

Meanwhile, here is the Hippocratic Oath, note the portion I bolded

I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:

To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art.

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

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