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From Roe to Final Exit, there really is a slippery slope.

Jack Kevorkian, M.D., a.k.a. "Dr. Death," pleads his case to legalize doctor-assisted suicide in front of a Sunday congregation at Saint Paul's Presbyterian Church in Livonia, Michigan. He is kicking off a ballot drive for a state constitutional amendment to secure this "right." The packed audience includes friends and relatives of most of the 20 people he has helped commit suicide since 1990 as well as the national executive director of the Hemlock Society, dedicated to suicide rights. The host pastor is an avid supporter.

Dr. Kevorkian implacably asserts what he sees as the bottom line: "the right not to have to suffer." "This is really a right that already exists, and we already have, but which we have to put in writing because of human irrationality. Every reasonable adult is going to have to realize that if he votes 'no' on this, he is throwing his right away."

Kevorkian's simple logic resembles the glare of a single unshaded light bulb hanging in a bare cell. The cell contains a solitary inmate in pain who wants to end it all. Once again, the complex texture of human life has been deceptively and insidiously reduced to the unthinking slogan, right to choose.


Where have we heard this "reasoning" before? Derek Humphry, long-time activist for "suicide rights" and author of the recent bestseller Final Exit (a how-to manual), was asked in an interview why the euthanasia movement had picked up momentum in recent years. (Since 1990, two referenda that would have legalized euthanasia were defeated in California and Washington by slim margins. Currently, euthanasia initiatives are also under consideration in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and ...

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In the Magazine

August 15, 1994

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