The New Republic
, May 17, 1999 p16(1)
The end of
? Death's Door.
Ezekiel J. Emanuel.
Physician Jack Kevorkian was convicted of
second-degree murder in March, 1999, bringing a stop to
his actions of assisted suicide. Advocates for
and assisted are losing legal and political battles in courts
and state legislatures. Physicians are developing better
ways to care for terminal patients, so the practices may no
longer be needed.
COPYRIGHT 1999 The New Republic, Inc.
Ezekiel J. Emanuel is an oncologist and chief of the
Department of Clinical Bioethics at the Clinical Center at
the National Institutes of Health. The views expressed in
this article do not reflect any official position of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services.
Jack Kevorkian's luck has finally run out. After three
previous acquittals, the poster boy for
convicted of second-degree murder on March 26 and
sentenced to ten to 25 years in prison. "You had the
audacity to go on national television, show the world what
you did, and dare the prosecution to stop you," Judge
Jessica Cooper told Dr. Death. "Well, sir, consider yourself
Stopping Kevorkian, of course, isn't the same thing as
and physician-assisted suicide, but his
downfall is emblematic of a larger consensus developing
against these practices. In the courts, in state legislatures, in
public opinion polls, and in the medical community,
and assisted suicide are losing the
legal and political battle. Indeed, as Americans look more
closely at the consequences of
suicide--and as physicians develop better ways to care for
the dying-- it's the argument for these practices that may
soon be put out of its misery.
The argument is an old one. In modern times, it was first
articulated by Samuel Williams, in an 1870 speech before
the Birmingham (England) Speculative Club. "[I]n all cases
of hopeless and painful illness," he said, "it should be the