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A Judge For Dr. Kevorkian
The guy who helped his cancer-stricken friend kill himself gets granted a special probation in which his conviction can be wiped from state records after a year, says an AP report:

"Mr. Williams, I can only say to you, I'm glad it wasn't me put in your position that day," Litchfield Superior Court Judge Robert C. Brunetti said.

Williams, of Cornwall, was charged with second-degree manslaughter after helping his friend, John T. Welles, 66, commit suicide in June. Welles, a former Marine who had not seen a doctor in decades, was dying of prostate cancer.

Williams, 74, cleaned a gun, carried it outside and discussed with Welles the most effective spot to aim the weapon, authorities said.

Relatives of Welles were among those in court to support Williams.

"I was holding my breath," Barbara Bartlett, Welles' sister, told The Hartford Courant. "I wish it had never happened but it did and it came out for the best. I think Huntington is a wonderful, wonderful man and he did a wonderful favor for my brother."

How come you can do or dispose of, as you wish, with your house, car, or your TV, but the most fundamental thing you possess -- your life, of course -- is the one thing you don't "own"? It's sick that Dr. Kevorkian is in jail, and probably will be for the rest of his life, when he should be busy, busy, busy helping people off themselves.

Posted by aalkon at April 8, 2005 8:47 AM

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Odd, I know, but whenever I think of Kervorkian, I think of Marsha Norman's ever-so-tedious "Night, Mother." Is there a line between incurable physical illness and emotional illness? If there is, are the "right to die" advocates willing to cross it?

"Night, Mother" is a two-woman show, about a mother and daughter. The daughter announces at the beginning of the play that she wants to kill herself, and the rest of the play is about how her mother tries to stop her. Basically, we learn that the daughter considers herself fuck-up, will never get better and offs herself. She's planned it all, made all arrangements, disposed of her worldly possessions, even prepared her room so when she finally blows her brains out, she won't make too great a mess.

So, what if, say, someone were to go to Dr. Kervorkian and say, "You know what? I'm a total fuck-up, my life isn't going to get better. I don't want to continue, so help me die."

Drawn out much longer than needed, but I guess the question is, is it only physical illnesses that make assisted suicide a viable alternative (in the minds of those who think it's a viable alternative) or is it for everyone that wants to off themselves?

Posted by: Patrick at April 8, 2005 11:59 AM

I always thought that Dr. K helped people who did not have the physical strength to off themselves, and were ready to die due to a long terminal illness and seemingly interminable pain.

People who *can* physically hang or poison themselves, slit their own wrists, take their own overdose, blow their own brains out, etc., etc., ad nauseum, do not necessarily have need of a "push this button to administer a lethal dose of morphine" method.

Wow. That was way more graphic than I intended.

Posted by: Goddyss at April 8, 2005 1:31 PM

Patrick makes an excellant point. When you are depressed sometimes suicide makes sense to you. But so do other warped things and one should not listen to ones own mind when depressed. Personally when that idea sounds good to me I toddle on down to the hospital to see if they are agreeing with me. They never do...

I think assisted suicide is for people with terminal illnessed like cancer and ALS. I think that people should be allowed to deside when they check out if it's going to be soon in either case. I know I wouldn't want to be a burden to my family say by drifting into Altheimer dementia. I might want to off myself at an earlier stage when I was together enough to do it.

I think this issue is a part and parcel of the culture wars that are going on today. There is a religious prohibition to suicide (assisted or not) I think if you are dying anyway and you get to much morphine, what's the harm? I'm thinking about Terri Schivo arriving into heaven meeting God tapping his watch saying what took you so long, I've been waiting forever!

Posted by: Myra at April 9, 2005 7:13 AM

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