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Buddhism in the News


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"You Don't Know Jack." The Real Jack Kevorkian.

As someone who supports a terminal patient's, "right to die "(euthanasia) I am really interested in a new movie out about the famous Dr. Jack Kavorkian. It will soon be aired in America on the HBO cable channel on April 24th. Dr. Kevorkian is a champion of the rights of people to die with dignity. He is known world wide for personally assisting many terminally ill people kill themselves:

In each of the above mentioned cases, the individuals themselves allegedly took the final action which resulted in their own deaths. Kevorkian allegedly assisted only by attaching the individual to a euthanasia device that he had made. The individual then pushed a button which released the drugs or chemicals that would end his or her own life. Two deaths were assisted by means of a device which delivered the euthanizing drugs mechanically through an IV. Kevorkian called it a "Thanatron" (death machine). Other people were assisted by a device which employed a gas mask fed by a canister of carbon monoxide which was called "Mercitron" (mercy machine). This became necessary because Kevorkian's medical license had been revoked after the first two deaths, and he could no longer have legal access to the substances required for the "Thanatron".
Handsome B. Wonderful: Here is the trailer for the movie, "You Don't Know Jack:"

Handsome B. Wonderful
: Why is that we not only allow for our beloved pets to die peaceful by lethal injection but see it as merciful action, yet we won't allow humans to die the same way? That's backwards, inhumane and unnecessary. Why should terminally ill people have to slowly and painfully waste away in a hospital bed as the family helplessly watches? I don't care if people find it morally offensive and "sinful" because death is a very personal issue.

Yes, suffering is inevitable as well as death but what about unecessary suffering? At what point does allowing the continuance of physical suffering become cruel? At what point does it become the merciful and compassionate thing to help people pass into their next life peacefully if they consent to such an action? If we are to embrace death as we are taught in Buddhism then why should we Buddhists oppose a terminally ill patient's right to die? If a person is barely alive anyway and just in constant anguish then I think forcing someone to stay alive at that point is cruel. Some say that Buddha died from poisoned mushrooms and that he knew it before he ate them, so couldn't one argue that he was engaging in voluntary euthanasia?

What lessons can be learned in slowly watching yourself (or a loved one) die from cancer as you bleed from every orifice on your body or in spending months wracked in pain throughout your core? You might say that the terrible suffering teaches that suffering is inevitable but I think a person would get that lesson right quick after a few days of their body slowly and excruciatingly painfully turning on them. So, then what do they do after that point? They suffering needlessly. Or, you might answer that modern drugs allow the patient to be quite comfortable during the dying process but I would argue then, "Isn't that already a form of voluntary euthanasia?" Those pain drugs numb people out so much that they might as well be dead because they basically just put them into a chemically induced coma.

If doctors are going to decide to drug a person up so that they are basically unconscious most of the time then what is the point of that?? What can the family learn from such a situation besides the unnecessary suffering of their loved one? I would think that the loved one's and family and friends would learn more by knowing ahead of time when the person was going to die and that way everyone could spend precious time with their loved one and exchange love and sincere feelings knowing that these would be their last days/hours/minutes with them. It would also allow everyone to arrange to be present upon the passing of the terminally ill person so that no one would have to go through unnecessary suffering by knowing that they missed the last minutes of their loved one's life.

And what about in the Jataka stories (stories of the Buddha's previous lives) where, as a Bodhisattva, the Buddha slits his own throat so that starving tiger cubs may feed off his blood? (The Hungry Tigress).

There was also the case of Vietnamese Buddhist monks in the 1960s who set themselves alight in protest against anti-Buddhist policies.

In the end religious arguments shouldn't matter because we don't make laws based on religious beliefs. As long as the action is taken willingly and by consent from a psychologist that they are in a frame of mind to make that decision then I think it should be legal. We have freedom of religion in this country, so I won't tell you what to believe as long as you afford me the same respect. If you are terminally ill, I shouldn't be able to force you to be injected with a lethal drug if you don't wish but that also means that you shouldn't be able to force me not to be able to die that way. As Dr. Kevorkian says, "Dying is not a crime."

(Some of this post was put together with quotes from a previous post on this issue).

---End of Transmission---

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Was Once said...

Is it a terrible shame we cannot die with dignity, and the logic fails to justify the way it is done now. I hope your post will open the door on this subject, but knowing there a lot of vested interests as to how this will play out...I doubt if we will have a reasonable answer in our lifetime here in the US.

katherine micaela said...

I want to watch this movie specially because the actor is al pacino! he is one of a hell! Great actor. One of a kind! Maybe now drugs involve...

soulsearcher said...

it's al pacino again...the great villain actor of all times..if he's gonna make how to videos, it's going to be a hit..

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