Death with Dignity
She survived those years with the assistance of a gastric feeding tube. Karen’s tragedy brought awareness to the importance of documenting individual’s end-of-life wishes. A health care directive is helpful in preventing the court system from making life and death decisions, such as in the case of Karen Quinlan. This document ensures a patient’s choices concerning life support are known—should they lapse into a coma. Executing a health care directive can be an example of voluntary passive euthanasia, while Karen Quinlan is an example of involuntary passive euthanasia.
Jack Kevorkian provides a model for active voluntary euthanasia. Kevorkian assisted several people in the act of committing suicide. His patients sought his help in ending their lives to avoid prolonging their existence in an undignified manner. The case that brought infamy to Kevorkian was that of Janet Adkins. Adkins suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and while she was still competent, she sought to end her own life. Many believe that “…when confronted with diseases or injuries that are incurable, untreatable, or poorly managed, patients may seek release from their suffering” (Harmon & Sethi, 2011, p. 355). Although through unconventional means, Janet Adkins’ family was “grateful someone was willing to listen to and help a beloved member of their family” (Stutsman, 2013, p.48). Media attention surrounding Jack Kevorkian, labeled Dr. Death, heightened