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Kevorkian: The Right to Die and Other 9th Amendment Freedoms

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Loving compassion for terminally ill patients drives 81-year-old Dr. Jack Kevorkian, but his advocacy is fierce and dramatic.  He spoke before an audience of 2,500 at a South Florida university on February 5th.  After comparing U.S. society with each of Laurence Britt's Fourteen Points of Fascism, Kevorkian revealed his view of a more honest American flag:


Kevorkian’s shocking flag. (Photo by Rady Ananda)

The audience reacted with audible shock to the swastika, prompting one man to yell, "They should use the machine on you!"  Kevorkian designed machines that allow the terminally ill to end their lives.  Protestors disrupted his speech twice by marching in and out en masse

Unperturbed, Kevorkian maintained a sense of humor.  During the question period, someone asked, "What do you think happens after someone dies?"  He answered, "They stink."  The audience laughed and applauded.  Several times, Kevorkian earned applause as people showed their support of an individual's right to determine the manner and timing of his or her death.


Dr. Jack Kevorkian speaks at NSU on Feb. 5th. Photo by Rady Ananda

The freedom to die has gained much media attention lately.  In December, a Montana court upheld iatric euthanasia (physician assisted suicide).  In November, the State of Washington voted for the right to die, joining Oregon.  In March of last year, Luxembourg legalized it.  Also in 2008, a highly publicized case in Italy ended after ten years when the courts finally allowed a man to remove the feeding tubes of his daughter who had been in a coma for 17 years.  A documentary on the right to die aired in Britain in December (see video below for footage and an interview of the director).

Kevorkian admits to euthanizing 130 patients.  Though unsuccessfully prosecuted for several of them, the one that earned him an eight-year prison sentence was his televised broadcast of Thomas Youk's death in 1998.  The 52-year-old had ALS, a progressive, usually fatal, neurodegenerative disease.  Physicist Stephen Hawking suffers from ALS, and baseball Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig died of it in 1941.  Youk was physically unable to self-administer the lethal dose, but provided fully-informed consent to Kevorkian to end his life.  The Michigan justice system violated his 9th amendment rights when prosecuting Kevorkian for what many deem to be the highly ethical and compassionate act of a trained physician.  Just as we euthanize our terminally ill pets, Kevorkian argues that humans have the natural right to demand the same.

In defending against that first degree murder charge, Kevorkian had hoped the US Supreme Court would hear his 9th Amendment defense.  SCOTUS declined, a cowardly move that Kevorkian called corrupt and unethical.  In Amendment IX: Our Cornucopia of Rights (Penumbra Press, Bloomfield Hills, MI, 2005), which he wrote while in prison, Kevorkian stated:

"Without a doubt the Court's insouciance and trepidation are welcomed and encouraged by extremely powerful lobbies representing antagonistic and self-serving financial, medical, pharmaceutical, governmental, and religious organizations.  Despite the enormous pressure they and their economic and political clout can exert, a really dedicated, stalwart, and ethical Court would be doing its noble duty as the ultimate guardian of our innate natural rights by being perpetually and single-mindedly focused on the people's welfare...."

After his release from prison in June 2007, Dr. Kevorkian began a speaking tour that included Harvard Law School last October, where famed Alan Dershowitz introduced him with high acclaim.  Praises aside, murderous zealots who seek to impose their religious beliefs on others have apparently targeted Kevorkian.  Police and security formed a large presence inside and outside the Nova Southeastern University arena.  Attendees endured a search of their bodies and purses and relinquished all drinks before entering the arena.  When confiscating my coffee, one officer explained, "You might have acid in that drink.  We don't know."

Unusual for NSU's Distinguished Speaker Series, and contrary to the printed program, no one introduced Dr. Kevorkian.  Poor acoustics suppressed his message for the upper tier, half of whom left early when part of the audio system failed.  Adding to further difficulties for the audience, at the end, handicapped seniors were required to climb to the second floor to exit the arena, instead of leaving through the doors on the first floor that were blocked "for security reasons."

Kevorkian had a little trouble articulating his thoughts during the speech, which never directly mentioned iatric euthanasia.  His acumen distinctly showed during open questions, though, when he finally connected for the audience the three admitted passions in his speech to the freedom to die: 

  • The protection of human rights against government tyranny;
  • The reformation of our penal system to include the more humane sanctuary system; and
  • A complete and radical change to public education.

    For Kevorkian, the damage to personal liberty by a tyrannical government includes the suppression of our inalienable right to die, but it doesn't stop there.  A justice system based purely on punishment warps prisoners and destroys families.  An education system that fails to teach its citizens about personal liberties and the nature of tyranny ensures the demise of a free society.  To regain the right to die, or any natural right, all three institutions – government, justice, and education – must be reformed.

    Given that much of the audience was shocked by easy comparisons between Nazi Germany and the modern United States, advocating for education reform is indeed wise.  Kevorkian hammered at the Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act, which he compared to Hitler's 1933 Enabling Act

    He scolded the audience for allowing their inalienable rights to be forfeited in exchange for security.  "You are letting the government spy on you because you aren't in the streets protesting about it."  Benjamin Franklin once observed, "Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."  Yet, these ideas are mere abstraction to today's youth, where even elite colleges fail to properly educate their students in civics.  Instead of the Pledge of Allegiance, Kevorkian would prefer students recite the Bill of Rights.

    The Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the U.S. states of Oregon, Washington and Montana specifically permit iatric euthanasia.  Britain is again debating the issue after it aired Oscar-winning director John Zaritsky's The Suicide Tourist (under the rename, The Right to Die) in December.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown voiced his opposition to legislation allowing it, but affirmed his support of personal choice.  This video interview of Zaritsky opens with footage from The Suicide Tourist:


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    In 2004, Rady Ananda joined the growing community of citizen journalists. Initially focused on elections, she investigated the 2004 Ohio election, organizing, training and leading several forays into counties to photograph the 2004 ballots. She officially served at three recounts, including the 2004 recount. She also organized and led the team that audited Franklin County Ohio's 2006 election, proving the number of voter signatures did not match official results. Her work appears in three books.

    Her blogs also address religious, gender, sexual and racial equality, as well as environmental issues; and are sprinkled with book and film reviews on various topics. She spent most of her working life as a researcher or investigator for private lawyers, and five years as an editor.

    She graduated from The Ohio State University's School of Agriculture in December 2003 with a B.S. in Natural Resources.

    All material offered here is the property of Rady Ananda, copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. Permission is granted to repost, with proper attribution including the original link.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Tell the truth anyway.

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    I've long believed that among the greatest liv... by GLloyd Rowsey on Sunday, Feb 8, 2009 at 7:52:16 PM
    Spain is still debating iatric euthanasia, but som... by Rady Ananda on Sunday, Feb 8, 2009 at 8:35:36 PM
     The 9th & 10th Amendments work together.... by Darren Wolfe on Sunday, Feb 8, 2009 at 9:26:37 PM
    ;-)And I encourage folks to read this quicklink Da... by Rady Ananda on Sunday, Feb 8, 2009 at 9:39:56 PM
    I can't think of a cabal more destructive to t... by Rady Ananda on Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at 9:28:09 PM
    Hardly! The deeper purpose behind this antagonism ... by Katrin R. on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 2:39:55 AM
    The best parallel I can point out to describe the ... by Katrin R. on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 3:02:01 AM
    It has nothing to do with the subject of choice an... by Katrin R. on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 3:15:41 AM
    Darren's statement that; "The powers of the gov... by tabonsell on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 2:57:11 PM
    "The powers delegated by the proposed Constit... by Darren Wolfe on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 8:17:14 PM
    I am wholly impressed.  In fact, you've i... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 9:21:22 PM
    When you get a copy of the Federalist Papers pleas... by tabonsell on Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 2:10:28 PM
    Necessary and Proper?More difficult, however, is w... by Darren Wolfe on Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 7:43:50 PM
    People have got to start thinking when it comes to... by tabonsell on Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 3:52:58 PM
    Getting rid of the FCC, FAA, & especially he I... by Darren Wolfe on Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 7:28:31 PM
    If you want to read some seriously prophetic paper... by Darren Wolfe on Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 7:54:38 PM
    Darren, this will be a fascinating read, I am sure... by Rady Ananda on Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at 9:24:12 PM
    He wanted to keep the Articles of Confederation:&n... by Darren Wolfe on Thursday, Feb 12, 2009 at 9:53:31 AM
    the more I stick around here, the more ignorant I ... by Rady Ananda on Thursday, Feb 12, 2009 at 9:50:35 PM
    Do those articles remain? Darren at the top of you... by Brett Paatsch on Thursday, Feb 12, 2009 at 11:16:30 PM
    link to Articles of Confederation http://avalon.la... by Rady Ananda on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 6:55:26 PM
    I had found the Articles of Confederation online a... by Brett Paatsch on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 9:05:19 PM
    here's a thread by Darren you may like: The Nu... by Rady Ananda on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 8:07:31 PM
    Amendment IX   The enumeration in the Consti... by Brett Paatsch on Sunday, Feb 8, 2009 at 9:40:38 PM
    Just kidding.  I personally know someone who assi... by Rady Ananda on Sunday, Feb 8, 2009 at 11:02:36 PM
    .... by Brett Paatsch on Sunday, Feb 8, 2009 at 11:25:01 PM
    That is a fantastic photograph you took of the doc... by Katrin R. on Sunday, Feb 8, 2009 at 11:10:17 PM
    Rady I want to challenge you a bit, you wrote:(1) ... by Brett Paatsch on Sunday, Feb 8, 2009 at 11:21:50 PM
    ' Just as a woman has a natural born right to ... by Katrin R. on Sunday, Feb 8, 2009 at 11:41:17 PM
    Katrin ~ thanks for the photo kudos. I hear your d... by Rady Ananda on Sunday, Feb 8, 2009 at 11:54:13 PM
    This talk about rights is interesting.  Has a... by Doc "Old Codger" McCoy on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 12:41:40 AM
    This is the conclusion I have come to. I DON'T... by Katrin R. on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 1:52:55 AM
    If we just pay heed to a lot of what the Doc says,... by GLloyd Rowsey on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 7:34:45 AM
    I like your comment very, very much.I need to clar... by Katrin R. on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 9:45:34 AM
    and very well put, Old Codger.... by GLloyd Rowsey on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 7:24:58 AM
    yep, the issue is not clearcut; caveats must be dr... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 1:09:46 PM
    In Oregon, this law went into effect on 1996, and ... by Katrin R. on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 3:04:55 AM
    Most doctors are very decent, and good, and even w... by Katrin R. on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 3:40:17 AM
    Can you collect these posts and send them to Washi... by GLloyd Rowsey on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 10:24:13 AM
    and people are just so misguided and don't rea... by Katrin R. on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 10:48:00 AM
    And I'm not really a movie nut, but did you se... by GLloyd Rowsey on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 12:17:46 PM
    Thanks for this article.  One of Dr. K's ... by Michael Richardson on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 10:18:53 AM
    You've got a legal question or two hanging, if... by GLloyd Rowsey on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 12:32:26 PM
    okay, here it is in all its length.  My responses... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 12:57:21 PM
    There are some good quotes in the article from tha... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 1:12:02 PM
    Why do people think a little blob in the womb of a... by Dennis Kaiser on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 3:10:57 PM
    People need to realize why we have a Bill of Right... by tabonsell on Monday, Feb 9, 2009 at 3:31:11 PM
    Sorry, but it should be George Mason, not James. ... by tabonsell on Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 1:13:18 PM
    I understand how errors like that can happen, they... by Brett Paatsch on Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 8:51:53 PM
    thanks for broaching it, Brett.okay, I got some mo... by Rady Ananda on Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at 12:29:04 AM
    Tom Paine's Rights of Man, and Bertrand Russel... by Brett Paatsch on Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at 7:16:46 AM
    that's an interesting idea, Brett; I have to c... by Rady Ananda on Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at 9:20:12 PM
    the social creatures are humans with the capacitie... by Brett Paatsch on Thursday, Feb 12, 2009 at 8:19:00 PM
    I am assuming, because of you original article, th... by Rady Ananda on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 7:09:16 PM
    like Bush and Cheney and indeed like many others i... by Brett Paatsch on Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 9:27:48 PM
    "I don't think nature (apart from humans ... by GLloyd Rowsey on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 6:54:26 AM
    That is, key or core to understanding where rights... by Brett Paatsch on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 7:16:56 PM
    I think your comment is very good, and very import... by Katrin R. on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009 at 9:31:55 PM
    Using click here we get this: Section 8. The Congr... by Brett Paatsch on Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 10:16:17 PM
    himself to say paragraph 18 not 16.... by Brett Paatsch on Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 10:28:54 PM

     

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