Holland: the new killing fields

Marta Russell ap888 at SPAMlafn.org
Thu Dec 7 15:37:42 MST 2000

Gary MacLennan wrote:
> I agree with Mac here totally.  My mother at the end had a life without
> dignity.  She chose to live on and clung as hard as she could. The doctors
> could not believe how long she lasted in her final coma. That was her
> choice. I respected that and so did the rest of the family though many of
> us prayed for her to let go and die.

Gary -- do you see that you are projecting your own fears of
disability onto your mother.  She chose to live as long as she
wished - she could handle it better than you could, it seems.  By
the way that is often the case.  Family members wish to speed up
the process out of their own discomfort, a factor not lost on
many disabled persons who believe that family pressures can
unduly influence a persons decision to live or die.  There are
many other social relation influences.
> However had she herself wanted to die then she should have had that option.
> I also have a dear sweet friend who is over 85.  She is terrified of a life
> of dependence on others.  She too should not be forced to stay on this
> earth any longer than she wants to.

Women without support are big victims of the "choice" so far.
Your dear sweet friend must be horrified of not having enough
support in her last days -- this is common in our "individualist"
society -- where there is no community or family to care for the
isolated and dependent.
See letter pasted below.

The New England Journal of Medicine -- December 7, 2000 --
Vol. 343, No. 23

Dr. Jack Kevorkian and Cases of Euthanasia in Oakland
County, Michigan, 1990-1998


To the Editor:

Analyses of data from Oregon (1,2) and elsewhere (3,4,5) have
begun to clarify the characteristics of patients who seek a
physician's assistance with suicide or euthanasia. We report
on a descriptive clinical analysis of the 69 persons who died
with the assistance of Dr. Jack Kevorkian in Oakland County,
Michigan, between 1990 and 1998. Kevorkian, a retired
pathologist, assisted in the deaths of over 100 people. In 1999,
he was sent to prison after being convicted of second-degree
murder. We analyzed data from the medical examiner's files,
including autopsy findings, for the 69 deaths that were
investigated by the Oakland County district office. Since the
procedures of medical examiners vary, we excluded deaths
investigated and studied at autopsy elsewhere.

Most patients in the United States who receive assistance from
a physician in committing suicide or who undergo euthanasia
are terminally ill men over the age of 65 years who have cancer,
neurologic disease, or end-stage heart or lung disease. (3,4)
The patients who died with Kevorkian's assistance had similar
diagnoses; however, only 25 percent were terminally ill,
according to the autopsy findings (Table 1). Seventy-two percent
of the patients had had a recent decline in health status that
may have precipitated the desire to die. Seventy-one percent
were women, a finding that is noteworthy because suicide rates
are usually lower among women than among men.

Persons who were divorced or had never married were
overrepresented among those who died with Kevorkian's help,
suggesting the need for a better understanding of the familial
and psychosocial context of decision making at the end of life.
Altogether, our findings underscore the vulnerability of women
and groups of men (i.e., those not married and those coping
with serious illness) to physician-assisted suicide and
euthanasia, particularly when clinical safeguards are lacking.

Lori A. Roscoe, Ph.D.
Julie E. Malphurs, M.A.
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL 33612-3899

L.J. Dragovic, M.D.
Office of the Medical Examiner
Pontiac, MI 48341-0438

Donna Cohen, Ph.D.
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL 33612-3899


1. Chin AE, Hedberg K, Higginson GK, Fleming DW. Legalized
physician-assisted suicide in Oregon -- the first year's experience.
N Engl J Med 1999;340:577-83.
Return to Text

2. Sullivan AD, Hedberg K, Fleming DW. Legalized physician-
assisted suicide in Oregon -- the second year. N Engl J Med
Return to Text

3. Back AL, Wallace JI, Starks HE, Pearlman RA. Physician-
assisted suicide and euthanasia in Washington state: patient
requests and physician responses. JAMA 1996;275:919-25.
Return to Text

4. Meier DE, Emmons C-A, Wallenstein S, Quill T, Morrison RS,
Cassel CK. A national survey of physician-assisted suicide and
euthanasia in the United States. N Engl J Med 1998;338:1193-201.
Return to Text

5. Emanuel EJ, Daniels ER, Fairclough DL, Clarridge BR. The
practice of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the
United States: adherence to proposed safeguards and effects on
physicians. JAMA 1998;280:507-13.

More information about the Marxism mailing list