Detroit Free Press columnist Brian Dickerson opines that Kevorkian was just a man ahead of his time. Imagine the “reality show” television potential, he writes, if Kevorkian were working today:
How differently things might have turned out if the nation’s first shock doc had waited until 2007 to make his debut. He’d have been a star instead of a pariah, and network executives would be murdering one another for the rights to film him at work.But here, I think, Dickerson is wrong:
In “Whose Life Is It, Anyway?” terminally ill patients would compete for the opportunity to end their suffering with the host’s expert medical assistance. A panel of medical experts would scrutinize each contestant’s symptoms — “That’s an impressive cough, Mrs. Schlabotnik, but you didn’t knock it out of the park” — and viewers at home would cast their votes for the most hopeless prognosis.
As things turned out, the conventional wisdom is that Kevorkian’s premature crusade has doomed physician-assisted suicide, at least for this generation. Except in Oregon, where the practice enjoys limited legal sanction, pro-euthanasia activists have succeeded mainly in mobilizing the religious conservatives Kevorkian despises.The actual backlash was from disability rights activists. It was Kevorkian’s assisting the suicides of disabled people to general societal applause that caused Diane Coleman to form Not Dead Yet, and that changed everything. In my very informed opinion, it was NDY and its disability rights colleagues that actually stopped euthanasia from spreading around the country—not religious conservatives.
In Michigan, the conservative backlash Kevorkian triggered arguably has stymied stem cell research and gay marriage as well as abortion and euthanasia.