Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fox Hosts Dr. Kevorkian, Their Health Care Straw Man.

You can catch the video here. What I think Fox was up to was trying to make Kevorkian a fool for the sake of their anti-reform argument. Cavuto tries to put words in Kevorkian's mouth repeatedly: never loved, no family, depressed, death means nothing, wish you had never been born. He is made as a stand in for all those who support not only Death with Dignity, but end of life counseling and choice in dying.

In other words, Kevorkian was made the health care reform straw man, made to represent all those who favor "best practice" panels, and death with dignity. Fox is framing end of life conversations as perverse and crazy. I'm not at all surprised that this is where and when Kevorkian shows up: on Fox news at this stage in our national debate over health care reform.

It's not a new role for him but it's unfortunate. I do have sympathy not for Kevorkian but for the patients he consulted who were suffering at the end of their life.

This gives me a chance to bring up the fact that Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the infamous "Dr. Death" who prominently assisted a number of patients with suicide in the 1990s, gets no love from death with dignity (or aid in dying) advocates.

The Death with Dignity law as it exists in Washington and Oregon states that, among other qualifications, it is eligible only patients who are still able to self-administer lethal medications orally. That's why they stay away from the term "assisted suicide." Death with Dignity is all about, well, dignity, autonomy, and privacy.

Kevorkian was assisting his patients with suicide, administering the drugs. While the distinction may or may not mean much to you or Jack or his patients, it means a lot in a court of law. Like homicide, maybe.

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