Professors oppose arrest of “Dr. Death”

By Donald Roth and Jr.

A pair of NIU professors said they were opposed to last week’s arrest of a man dubbed “Dr. Death.”

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who built the nation’s first “suicide machine,” was arrested by Michigan police for allegedly helping two women commit suicide last October.

Kevorkian built the two “suicide machines” the women used to kill themselves. One woman delivered carbon monoxide through a mask and the other woman administered a lethal injection.

The ethical and medical dilemmas Kevorkian’s actions have raised are not limited to the national arena.

“There is a professional ideology dominating people’s right to die, (denying it), and it’s wrong,” said J. David Brown, an assistant sociology professor.

Brown said since the inception of medicine, practitioners and doctors have taken it upon themselves to be the protectors of the “gift of life.”

Another NIU professor had a similar point of view. “This was definitely not murder,” said philosophy professor Jospeh Osei. “The victims were not helpless, they were very much lucid and alive.”

Osei said it was improper to charge Kevorkian with murder because the act was not malicious and a deliberate attempt to harm another human being without just cause.

“The medical profession’s mission to protect the gift of life is an insufficient reason for intervening at the expense of the outrageous monetary and physiological costs for rational people who choose euthanasia,” Brown said.

“Kevorkian’s actions were not criminal, he was helping people obtain a goal not unlike another doctor giving medicine to treat illness or disease,” Osei said.

Osei said as long as the people were rational, free of mental defects and had discussed the implications, finality and risks that are inherent in the procedure, it should be permitted.

It is crucial to get counseling for people who are depressed or have other psychological problems which impair their judgement, Osei said.

The professors agreed that the people considering this radical action have to pass judgement on their own, providing they are mentally competent.

There is another important consideration. “All inventions of this type should be subject to the same rigorous regulation and supervision that all medical related products are,” Osei said.

The reason Kevorkian and his “suicide machine” have elicited so much attention is that he is rebelling against the hypocratic oath he took as a doctor of medicine as well as the medical profession as a whole, Brown said.