By Rep. Darrio Melton
We’ve all heard the stories of Dr. Kevorkian–also known as “Dr. Death,” who assisted more than 130 patients in committing suicide. Dr. Kevorkian gained his fame as he fought for patients’ rights to control their own bodies, but the medical industry took a harsh view of his practices.
The medical industry frowned on Dr. Kevorkian because the Hippocratic Oath says, “I will prescribe no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel.” Many doctors feel it is their duty to heal, to repair, to cure–not to kill.
But Dr. Kevorkian would have probably found a friend in Alabama’s own Governor Bentley. Bentley, a medical doctor himself, has seen fit to throw out the Hippocratic Oath and deny medical care to 300,000 Alabamians who work hard but fall into a coverage gap.
Without Medicaid expansion, our own Gov. Death is allowing 700 people to needlessly die each year–that’s 700 people whose lives could be saved with the stroke of a pen.
Not only are our sick parents, friends and neighbors going to die without Medicaid expansion, our rural hospitals are dying too. In Alabama alone, 10 hospitals have closed in the past three years, which makes it harder for all Alabamians to get the care they need.
When these hospitals close, the entire community suffers. Everyone has to drive further for medical treatment, hundreds of people lose jobs and the rural county and city loses a valuable revenue source. Who really wins when the hospitals close?
Yet Dr. Kevorkian is somehow known as Dr. Death, when he was acting at the request of the patients and doing his level best to end suffering for 130 people. Dr. Bentley is putting his hand in the face of hundreds of thousands of needy Alabamians who are begging for his help, looking down out of his taxpayer funded plane at the 700 people who will die this year.
Who do you think we should call Dr. Death?