Dr. Kevorkian’s Successor

An article in the Washington Post about the new leader of the euthanasia movement:

Egbert calls it an “exit hood.” It’s a contraption that can end a life in minutes. The 84-year-old doctor, who formerly served as a campus Unitarian Universalist minister and has taught as an assistant visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University, offers to explain how it works. The tube connects to two helium tanks, he says. He lifts the hood over his head and lowers the open end, letting go as the garter clamps to his forehead. Then, he says, you release the valves on the tanks, streaming helium into the hood.

“You fill it up until it feels like a New York chef’s hat,” he says, stretching the hood to demonstrate.

Then, he says, you pull the hood down. And he does just that, easing it past his eyes, his nose, his chin, and cinching it even tighter at his neck with a sweatband. His face goes hazy behind the plastic, a blurry image of a man whose life and work are prone to distortions and intrigue. His breath fogs the plastic, but he holds the hood there for a moment, saying something that I can’t quite make out.

Might he need saving?

Another breath. More fog. Even though there’s no helium coursing into the hood, I’m anxious. Should I pull it away?

Another breath, and, finally, he lifts the hood. He inhales deeply and smiles.

“That’s how it’s done,” he says matter-of-factly.

In those final seconds before his patients lose consciousness and die, the words they utter sound like Donald Duck, he says, imitating the high-pitched, nasally squeak familiar to any child who has sucked a gulp from a helium balloon.

Donald Duck.

Aren’t you glad that euthanasia is bringing us death with dignity?

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