Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Art and belongings of Dr. K to be sold in auction

In the early 1990's I had the privilege of being assigned to do a series of article on ethical issues in terminal health care. The assignment came about primarily because I had been asked what I thought about Dr. Kevorkian and the countless assisted suicides he had performed. I've found that researching a matter and writing about it can be exceedingly helpful in gaining an understanding of things. The five articles appeared in The Senior Reporter, a seniors publication, founded by a former editor of the Duluth News Tribune. With the exception of the last they were to be written as a journalist, not opinion pieces.

The experience was tremendously helpful as I gained access to doctors, nurses, ethicists, a prof who was part of the Hemlock Society, and even the physician who wrote the preamble to President Clinton's health care initiative, Dr. Arthur Caplan. These many interviews gave me an uncommon insight into the complexity of the issues surrounding terminal health care in America. Due to advances in technology, a 1980 a presidential commission had difficult time even coming to agreement on the definition of death.

My last article in the series was titled The Pros and Cons of Doctor Assisted Suicide. It's an article that I could not have written had I not researched and written the previous four pieces. Two years later this last piece was republished in Truth Seeker magazine which assembled a whole edition dedicated to this issue. Interestingly enough my article appeared in the midst of works by the leading proponents of assisted suicide, the only voice raising a red flag about the possibilities of going too far with this matter. One of Dr. Kevorkian's articles abutted my own, and one of Dr. Kevorkian's painting was used as an illustration in my article.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who passed away in June of this year, built his reputation on challenging the establishment and captured many headlines. But he was also into music and art, a painter of some rather macabre subjects designed to make one think.

This morning a news story about the sales of Dr. Kevorkians art and other possessions caught my eye and brought back this memory of the painting that was used to illustrate my own article. The media nicknamed him Dr. Death, but it may be that his loose cannon approach played a role in the development of modern hospice care to alleviate the suffering of the dying.

The editor of Truth Seeker, in her opening column, cited this article as the most important one in that edition of the magazine, Making The Final Choice: Should Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legalized? See also the Associated Press story, Dr. Jack Kevorkian's art, belongings to be sold

In the meantime... make your day count to the full. You only live once.

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