Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who championed the cause of euthanasia for decades passed away today. Last Summer he talked with Ron Bennington about the right to die, his fight against the system, how he saw himself as not unlike Nelson Mandela, and his passion for preserving legal rights of Americans. Below are a few excerpt from that June 24, 2010 interview– which may be his last public interview before he died. You can hear the interview in its entirety here: on Ron Bennington Interviews.
Talking about the importance of Ninth Amendment:
Actually its right now more important than the euthanasia mission which I think is pretty much complete but nothings been done on the Ninth Amendment. People aren’t even aware of it. That’s a hard job to do…just to make them aware.
We’re more enslaved then you think. You don’t feel it. You hate to say ‘I’m enslaved’. I admit it. I was enslaved. I had the right to do what I did. The patient had the right to request what he did and I end up in prison. And the patient’s scared, the family’s scared. Fear. That’s dictatorship material. I thought we were a free country. We have a Ninth Amendment. I had the right to do that.
Talking about when he realized he needed to get involved with the right to die:
When I learned that the Dutch had legalized it, I said well, finally something’s happening. I went over there to check on it. I found out that they can’t help anybody from another country– has to be a Dutch citizen. But they’re the only ones that do it correctly. These three states in our country they’re not doing it correctly at all.
[There are] no doctors involved. He writes a prescription for the lethal medicine. He can’t give it to the patient. The patients supposed to take it himself but if he’s crippled he can’t, and if he can’t swallow he can’t. Now that’s not a medical service.
Talking about doctors who unofficially help patients to die by leaving them extra meds:
That’s playing games. And the doctor will say, don’t turn it up too much now because that could kill you. And they know what’s going to happen– the person’s desperate. Now that’s not an ethical medical practice. That’s from a coward.
Talking about how he feels about the religious position on a person’s right to die:
They know they’re phony. They’re fraudulent. They know that. It’s a sin? Define sin! What’s a sin to you is a virtue to someone else. You tell children oh no that’s a sin don’t do it but they never define what a sin is. To define it they say you will go to hell or you won’t go to heaven. Both of which are silly concepts. I mean a child knows that. So we lie to children, lie about Santa Claus, keep em happy. Also keeps adults happy too. But, these lies are not living the way nature intended us to live. I don’t think animals have such silly customs.
Talking about the issue of ethics and ‘playing God':
Medicine covers the human spectrum from conception through death, all natural events. Why didn’t I say birth? Because we’ve gone back beyond birth. Now we play god with the fetus and with the egg. You see? We’re playing God. God should have fertilized that egg– well we’ll do it. They forget that. How come if we can help people coming into the world– which is wonderful, noble work– we can’t help them leaving the world. That inconsistency is a perfect example of human nonsense. Lack of common sense. Of humans being dumbed down where they’re no longer worthy of the term human intellect.
On proper procedures for euthanasia, and what real freedom means:
Like any medical service we go through the diagnosis. We examine him, we have the psychiatrist examine him. We say do you know about this treatment? Have you tried this? And they say ‘no, no no’. Well, there’s things we can do so there’s no need to end your life. But if he’s been through all that and there’s still suffering, there’s only one option left, and he wants it and he has a right to request it and I have a right to help him do it. Because that’s our Ninth Amendment right. The law says you do that, and you go to prison, so no one uses it. That’s how we’re enslaved. You’re more enslaved than you think you are. This is not a democracy. It’s not a free country. Can’t be free. Because we have no discipline.
Two things Americans are lacking so they can’t be totally free. Self discipline, and…honesty. The two things missing in most Americans because they all lie. They cheat and lie to get ahead to make more money or do something. Or revenge. Honestly. they’re dishonest to themselves and they lie to themselves and they are undisciplined. So any law– any constitutional amendment that gives you absolute rights– acknowledges your natural rights–- wont work if you’re undisciplined. See animals don’t have the problems we do. We say we’re thinking people. That’s our problem. An animal probably doesn’t do that, he’s born with instincts and in those instincts, is the same kind of behavior in every generation. The same reaction toward other animals of their kind. Some fight among themselves. Some kill each other. Some eat each other. But animal behavior is predictable. Humans are not.
Put an animal in a cage and what do you do? Do you change his behavior? No. He’ll fight to get out. He’ll growl, he’ll make any noise he wants. A baby is a perfect example of absolute freedom. It wants to urinate ANYWHERE anytime, doesn’t matter. The baby is not aware of consequences. You can’t threaten a baby with prison or punishment to change him. You can’t. Under a certain age, like 1 year. Take a baby of eight months. It vomits over you. It does anything it wants– anything. That’s an example of undisciplined behavior. But you can’t blame the baby. It’s not mature. Once you’re mature, you must have discipline. And honesty. A baby is honest, it’s behaving the way its driven to behave, by instinct.
Talking about how it felt to be imprisoned for what he had done:
Being in prison wasn’t that tragic to me. Because I knew I was not a criminal. If I had committed a real crime I’d be remorseful. But I wasn’t. I said, they’re gonna suffer in the future because they known darn well they’re wrong. They’re wrong putting me in the prison, and they know it. Just like they knew Mandela was right and they were wrong in South Africa when they put him in prison.
Talking about people who call him ghoulish for enjoying the work he does:
Take a surgeon who just transplanted a mans heart into another man. He enjoys that. You’d expect that wouldn’t you? Why? He enjoys it because he accomplished something worthwhile. I did too.
On his duty as a doctor:
My duty is to prolong life is possible and to eliminate suffering if possible. Well you couldn’t prolong life, but you could eliminate the suffering and your duty says you have to do it.