After talks with her husband, sons, minister, and local doctors; Janet Adkins decided she didn?t want to undergo the sustained mental deterioration that Alzheimer?s Disease caused (Uhlman 111). She began to realize she had the disease when she started forgetting songs and failed to recognize notes as she played the piano (Filene 188). ?She read in Newsweek about Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his ?Mercitron? machine, then saw him on the ?Donahue? Television show? (Filene 188). With her husband?s consent but objections by sons and doctors, she telephoned him to arrange to kill herself (Filene 188). She still had a life expectancy of at least ten years with the illness, but she wished to die. She wanted to die before the disease robbed her of her competence (Larson 229). Kevorkian later killed Adkins and faced the consequences boldly (Hendin, ?Suicide in America? 247). The background, process, and effects of Dr. Kevorkian?s questionable first patient, Janet Adkins, have a very detailed story in them.
Janet Adkins led a very productive life up to and even after she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer?s, but she couldn?t handle losing control of her brain (Filene 188). She was 54 years old and lived in a wealthy Oregon suburb with her stock broker husband, Ron. She was also the mother of three sons, taught English and piano, went hang gliding, trekked in Nepal, climbed Mount Hood, and generally behaved with a lot of energy (Gutmann 20). She and her husband were longtime Hemlock society members, which advocates Euthanasia in some cases (Betzold 22). ?Doctors at a Portland hospital told her that eventually she would be dependent on her husband for feeding and bathing? (Gutmann 21). She did not want to take her own life in case she messed it up, and her own doctors wouldn?t help her (Hendin , ?Seduced by Death? 132). Though she was still able to carry on clear conversations and demolish her son at tennis; her husband explained that if she was going to go, she?d probably want to go to soon rather than to late (Gutmann 21). After hearing about Kevorkian, Ron Adkins contacted him to employ his services (Wolfson 56). Her husband complained to Dr. Kevorkian that he had to remind her of the times of her tennis lessons, and that she kept leaving her purse in the house. After the brief conversation, Kevorkian agreed to meet with her (Gutmann 20). ?Dr. Kevorkian was a ret…
…termining how ill she was. Also the method of which he carried out the suicide raised questions (Hendin, ?Seduced by Death? 130). Among supporters of Euthanasia he became something of an antiestablishment here (Larson 230). This was the first of over a hundred assisted suicides that he would perform (Uhlman 111).
Betzold, Michael. ?The Selling of Doctor Death.? New Republic 26 May 1997: 22-28.
Fessenden, Ford. ?Matters of Life and Death.? Newsday 10 June 1995: 7.
Filene, Peter. In the Arms of Others. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1998.
Gutmann, Stephanie. ?Death and the Maiden.? New Republic 24 June 1996: 20-22.
Hamel, Robert. Must We Suffer Our Way to Death. Texas: Southern Methodist Press, 1996.
Hendin, Herbert. Seduced by Death. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997.
Hendin, Herbert. Suicide in America. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1995.
Larson, Edward. A Different Death. Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1998.
Uhlman, Michael. Last Rights. Washington D.C.: Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1998.
Wolfson, Adam. ?Killing of the Dying.? The Public Interest Spring 1998: 56.