Dr. Kevorkian is going to be released soon. I am not going to talk about the ethics of euthanasia, but there is another matter that I think his actions brought some much-needed attention. His opponents somehow figured out that, if people are in such bad shape that they want to die, then let's not focus on simply keeping them alive at all costs--instead, look at WHY they are in discomfort and try to alleviate that.
"The solution here is not to kill people who are getting inadequate pain management, but to remove barriers to adequate pain management," said Burke Balch, director of the Powell Center for Medical Ethics at the National Right to Life Committee, which opposes assisted suicide. "We need to come up with better solutions to human suffering and human need," Balch said.
Finally, they're getting it. Life at all costs, without regard to quality of life, is not enough. If organizations like the NRLC would put more effort into making life better, instead of being simply satisfied with its existence, they would present a much more acceptable and sane message. You want to prevent assisted suicide? Then make life better for people who are suffering. You want to prevent abortion? Then prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place by promoting birth control and safer sex, and make life better for mothers and children who are living in poverty or otherwise unhappy.
Waving signs around and screaming at people in front of a clinic don't make the situation better. I doubt they reduce abortions by a significant amount, if at all. Telling people to not have sex does not work either. Accepting human nature and human need, and working with them instead of against them will get you much further.
I do understand that palliative care sometimes ceases to be effective in end-stage terminal illnesses. I believe that a patient should have the right to choose to discontinue a painful life. However, I do think that we need to give them every opportunity to manage their pain before they come to that choice . I've heard of doctors refusing to give more pain medication to a dying person because "they might become addicted." Such doctors need to be asked to step aside and let a pain management specialist deal with the situation. That, and we need more pain management specialists.
I know that some people believe that allowing the terminally ill to choose euthanasia will lead to depressed people choosing it as well. What that tells me is that we do not adequately care for depression and related illnesses. Depression is not taken seriously enough, in my opinion. Take a pill, get over it, and for god's sake, don't talk about it, we don't want to hear your bitching. Nice.
Anyway, that's my opnion.