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The film I chose to watch was You Dont Know Jack. This film is the story of Dr. Jack Kavorkian, and his contevesial work performing physician assited suicide. He repotedly assisted 130 people in ending their lives. My belief is that his passion for such treatment stemmed from not being able to help his mother as she was dying. His thinking behind the act of assisted suicide was that it is better than removing a feeding tube and just letting the patient die. He would only perform an assited suicide on terminally ill patients, and before any action was taken he would do a video conceltation with the family to find things like what they were suffering from, how long they had been suffering, how long they would have left if untreated, and why they wanted to have this done. Once he decided it was appropriate to do so, he would give them the assistance they wanted.
To carry out the suicide he invented a machine called a thanatron. The patient would be hooked up to the machine and given the switch to release the drugs. He would only let the patient have control of the switch because it would be illegal for anyone else to control it. When the switch was activated, the machine would begin a saline drip, then the machine would inject the patient with sodium thiopental, which would put them to sleep so they felt no pain, then the machine would administer a mixture of potassium chloride and pancuronium bromide. The potassium chloride would immediately stop the heart, and the pancuronium bromide would relax the body so there were no involentary spasms during while the patient died.
His first official patient was Janet Adkins. She was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He performed the treatment in a van in the woods because he had no other place to do it. He was charged with murder, but the charges were eventually dropped because there was no law against doctor assisted suicide. His next two cases involved two women, one suffering from multiple sclerosis, and another with dibilitating pelivic pain. He was put in jail, but with help from his lawyer, Geoffery Fieger, he was let out. Although after this incident his medical licence was revoked so he was not able to obtain or dispence the chemicals involved with his suicides.
At this time he was confronted with many oppossers. People protesting outside his home and wherever he was. Even his family was subjected to this. His sister lost her job due to her involvment with his work.
After the being cut off from the drugs he used to perform such acts, he began using what was called a Mercitron. This was a mask attached to a container of carbon monoxide so the patient would eventually sufficate. The only way the carbon monoxide would be released was to have the patient unclip the hose and let it flow into the mask.
Now because he was not able to get ahold of anymore carbon monoxide, he was forced to attach a bag to the patients to try to recapture the gas. This did not work. Even when the procedure was not working that way, the patient still wanted it to be done. This case was precued very strongly due to the nature the patient was subjected to.
After the death of his sister, Margo Kavorkian, the state of Michigan implimented a ban of physician assited suicide. While trying to appeal this ban he was sent to jail for 19 days while assisting a young man suffering from ALS, during which time Dr. Kovorkian went on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. After being released Geoffery Fieger took to the appeals court to try to get the ban lifted. He was successful; although, there was a common law in place that stated assisting in a suicide falls under the crime of murder. He beat that law, after that he wanted to take his case to the Supreme Court.
At this point he was able to perform as many suicides as he pleased as long as he stayed within the boundaries. This is when he exicuted the bulk of his treatments for his patients. The last patient he dealt with was Thomas Youk, a man diagnosed with ALS. This time rather than letting the patient administer the lethal dose, he game him a lethal injection directly. He gave the video of the injection to the press. His purpose for doing this was to get his story out to the nation. He wanted his cause to be heard by the Supreme Court.
Moving on to Jack Kavorkian’s final trial; before this trial he fired Fieger and planned on representing himself. This trial was to try to convict Dr. Kavorkian on the murder of Thomas Youk. In the end he was convicted of second-degree murder mostly due to being outmatched in the courtroom. His sentence was 10 – 25 years in prison.
The main issue presented in this film is that of whether or not physician assited suicide or euthinasia should be legal. My feelings on this issue are that any type of assited suicide should be legal. Dr. Jack Kavorvian was a brilliant man and a pioneer in his field. My belief is that he was just ahead of his time. I do think that one day euthinasia will be leagalized.
Everyone can learn a lot from this film. Patients can learn that just letting death take you should not be the only way to die, and health care providers should take away that euthinasia is a much more humane way of letting someone die. If a patient wants to die now there is a multitude of forms that must be filled out and questions that need to be answered. Even after these forms are signed the patient still must wait until there is incedent, most likely painful, where the forms would take effect and finally let them die. I say if they want to then let them. Does it show more compassion to remove a feeding tube and let them die, or wait for a heart attack to occur? I do not think so.
Another issue that was presented briefly at the beginning of the movie was that of donating organs. In the movie Dr. Kavorkian tells a patient he is about to assist in suicde that the organs they will be able to use from his death would help a number of people. This makes me think of the class discussion we had about organ conscription. My stance on the subject is that everyone should be required to donate their organs upon their death, given there is no reason for them not to. This would benefit society emmencly. There would be less waiting for patients on the transplant list, because with the additional organ avilable there would be a greater chance of the organs being a match to the recipient.
These points of view are not without their oppossers. People oppose the main issue because of the obvious reason; they think it’s technically murder. To which I say it’s not murder at all. Physician assited suicide does not involve the physician injecting or releasing any lethal chemicals; it is all up to the patient. Organ conscription is also contraversial topis around the medical community. It could be debated that a person’s organs are their organs; for them to do with them what they please. I think how many usable organs have been buried or cremated that could have been used to save another person’s life. I believe that if someone could be saved there is no plausable reason that could be given for why not.
I would also like to discuss the issue of how the laws influence how doctors care for their patients. These laws that tell us we’re not allowed to help ease someones suffering and put them out of their misery are obsured. If tortue is not legal, than euthinasia should not be either; if someone is in pain and they want to end it are they not entitled to end their suffering. If we think about this situation from a utilitarian standpoint, then euthinasia makes the most sense. To ease the most suffering would be to end the life of the patient in question. Also, from a utilitarian standpoint we can see that organ conscription is the most beneficial to society. There should be a call to change these laws. We need more people like Dr. Kavorkian, people that stand up for their beliefs on contraversial issues and try to challenge these laws. I think that too many people are afraid of the consiquences of their “disobidience” and they need to stand up for themselves.
Watching this movie was very thought provoking to me. It made me think about these issues and where I stand on them. I honestly did not think much about these topics until I saw this movie. It also made me realize how passionate I can be about an issue, and I am very passionate about the two I’ve discussed.
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