Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dr. LaMorte

I actually had a Professor LaMorte at BU. He's awesome--he just won the Metcalf Award! I have no idea if the recommendation that I wrote last year was a part of the 2011 committee's selection process. But if it was, I'm happy that I contributed my very tiny part to recognize this teacher and mentor. In the 0.02% chance that you'll see this, Dr. LaMorte, hope you're having a great summer sailing and relaxing, and congratulations!

The other Dr. Death: Kevorkian. I'm sure you've read the articles about his recent death. I think it's unfortunate that his advocacy of euthanasia was portrayed in the media as so grotesque. Granted, his attention-seeking antics were obnoxious. However, we euthanize animals to prevent suffering, so why is there such a strong reaction against allowing a person to end their own life?

I believe that the decision to choose the how and when of one's death should be included in the Patient's Bill of Rights. The protection that it outlines now: the right to privacy, prevention of abusive insurance practices--sure, fine. To me it's still fairly useless and un-enforced, and as a result healthcare practices and services have a long way to go. I'm frustrated with the lack of welfare and social protection that I feel a government should enact and enforce on behalf of its population.

What is this preoccupation with preventing death? Is life really worth extending a few years through over-dependence on prescription drugs? Or kept alive in a hospice bed by a machine that breathes for you? As the baby boomer generation approaches old age en masse, we are going to have significant social and economic challenges in the healthcare industry. I don't bring that point up as a reason or justification for radical policies. But I do think there are questions and issues that should be discussed preemptively.

Kevorkian was a pragmatic thinker; his ideas on death should not be labeled as morbid or depraved, but as compassionate and progressive.