The Right to Die
Attorney Geoffrey Fieger joined Mike Papantonio on America’s Lawyer to discuss the topic of doctor-assisted suicide. Geoff represented Jack Kevorkian when he was charged with first degree murder, leading to six acquittals. When Kevorkian represented himself in 1999, however, he was convicted of second degree murder for administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill patient.
Geoff explains that the jury was able to connect with his message when he represented Kevorkian because they understood that the decision patients were making to end their lives was exactly that – their decision, and not Kevorkian’s. He was simply facilitating their desires.
In fact, the host cites a poll that states 70% of Americans support doctor-assisted suicide. Geoff believes that there are a few reasons that factor into this high number, the first being that self-determination is a matter of common sense. Second, he owes it to the movement within this country toward minimalized government involvement in one’s personal life. Lastly, Geoff believes money plays a significant part in support for doctor-assisted suicide. After all, throughout the last 15 days of a person’s life, incredible sums of Medicare and Medicaid funds are used to prolong life rather than to cure an illness.
However, just because patients may want to end their lives does not mean they will ultimately choose to carry out the decision. Geoff explains that many of these individuals want the comfort of knowing that it is an option, even if they never act on it. It is a matter of having the right to that choice, to deciding on whether a person wants to continue with life, given the quality of it.
It is a model that, Geoff notes, others have been using for years, including Holland, England, Scandinavia, and Oregon, where doctor-assisted suicide has been legal for over a decade.
To read the full interview, click here.