The Kevorkian Verdict

TRANSCRIPT


Kevorkian: This is a video tape recording on Tuesday, October 22, 1991 at around 8 p.m. at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Miller in Roseville. And we're here to discuss actually what's called physician-assisted suicide. And we're here to discuss the wishes of Sherry Miller, Mr. and Mrs. Miller's daughter. And Mrs. Marjorie Wantz, whose husband Bill is here.

Sherry's parents are here, Mr. and Mrs. Miller, her son Ray, her son Gary, her daughter Susan, brothers and sisters. And Sherry's very good friend, Sharon Welch-- Karen. What's your last name, Karen?

Karen: Nelson.

Karen Nelson, another good friend of Sherry Miller's. And we're here to discuss, it's a free for all discussion, of anybody's thoughts and ideas and opinions and suggestions about the proposed event. It's open for discussion. I'll start with the first question.

Kevorkian: Sherry, have you thought this over well?

Sherry: Yeah, I have. I thought of it probably a long time, a long time, yeah I have. And I have no qualms about my decision to ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: You realize, of course, the implications of your decision.

Sherry: Yup, I do.

Kevorkian: What is the implication of your decision?

Sherry: There's no turning back.

Kevorkian: What will happen?

Sherry: All I have to say is no.

Kevorkian: What is it you want? Put it in plain English.

Sherry: I want to die.

Kevorkian: That's as plain as you can put it.

Sherry: Yeah. And I know there's no turning, I know that. And this is not an overnight decision. ... (inaudible) waited too long. I cannot do anything myself. I waited too long.

Kevorkian: Have you ever wavered in this decision? Have there been days when you said well, maybe I better think about it?

Sherry: No. I would not be here-- I would not be in my situation, no. Never, no.

Kevorkian: Are you afraid at all? Do you have any fears?

Sherry: No, no, none. ... (inaudible) No fears.

Kevorkian: Okay, we'll get back to you, Sherry, in just a minute. Marjorie, would you add or subtract anything from what Sherry said?

Marjorie: No. Just that I've been thinking about it. You know how long it's been. It's gotten much worse. I wish we could do it-- like she said-- I wish we could have done it a year ago, two years ago.

Sherry: The 14th.

Kevorkian: You're on heavy doses of pain killers now.

Marjorie: Right. I'm on ... (inaudible) right now.

Kevorkian: Well, when we were on television recently, "The Dana Show," how has your situation been since then? Has there been any improvement at all?

Marjorie: No.

Kevorkian: Has it gotten worse or about the same?

Marjorie: It's gotten worse.

Kevorkian: Not even the same?

Marjorie: Not even the same. It's gotten worse. I was on the two patches at that time. He said try the three. We went on the three. He said try the four or five. I don't know if I can say this, four or five could slow your heart down. That could be a blessing, and you could go that way. So, we tried the five, and I'm wearing the five.

Kevorkian: Were you hoping when he said that?

Marjorie: Yes, that maybe that would be the way. Maybe that would be four.

Kevorkian: Do you have any fear at all about what--

Marjorie: I'm a little nervous. I have no fear of it; I'm a little nervous. Because I've been waiting so long. You know, waiting for the medicine. And then it wasn't coming. And then maybe we couldn't do it. The waiting. A week seems like you're waiting a month. Three days seems like three months when you're hurting and going crazy.

In Sherry's situation, I have tried myself three different times, and I have not succeeded to do it. I don't know what I did wrong, but I didn't succeed.

Kevorkian: Were you kind of apprehensive when you tried it yourself?

Marjorie: No, no. No, I tried to-- as you know, the car, I put the hose on the exhaust and through the window. I stayed in the car over three hours, I tried it three times. Nothing happened. And my doctor told me within about 25 minutes that's all it should take. I was in there three hours. I didn't get sleepy, I didn't get sick. I felt a little nausea, nothing.

I took 120 ... (inaudible) two different times. And I was told well, 120, that's nothing, you need 4,000 of ... (inaudible). So, I've tried everything in short of a gun. I've tried loading a gun, but I don't know how to load one. If I did, I probably would have. As Bill said I probably wouldn't have succeeded. ... (inaudible) And this way I feel it's going to be done right. It's going to be fast, no mistakes. If you did it yourself, you don't know what you're doing. And I've had it for so long, I don't want anymore of it.

Sherry: That's a sure thing.

Marjorie: I get a half hour of normal sleep at night, with all the pills and sleeping pills I take. And I've got no quality of life left.

Kevorkian: It's hard for us to imagine because we're living a very comfortable life.

Marjorie: Yes, it is. And the people that I know come around and say, "Well, you should get out and do this and do that."

Sherry: "Hang in there."

Marjorie: "Hang in there. And go out to restaurants and eat." When you're in such misery, you can't wait to get to bed and pop sleeping pills and pain pills and just sleep. I go to bed all day long, most of the time, with sleeping pills just to get out of pain. That's the only time I get out of pain is when I sleep.

And they tell me, "Why don't you do this." I says, "When you're in a situation like this, when you're in my shoes, then you tell me what to do. Until you are, don't tell me what to do."

I have friends, they have migraine headaches, well they're in a bad way for a day or two during the week. The rest of the time they work, they have a great time. They're comparing themselves to me. I said, "You can't compare yourself to me, no way."

And I've been told I can't do anything. Every surgery has made me worse, especially the last one.

Kevorkian: How many have you had?

Marjorie: Ten.

Kevorkian: Ten surgeries. ... (inaudible) in the one spot, and this time he left a needle up there and he won't take it out. No doctor will take it out. He's left the needle up away from the vaginal area. He will not take it out, so no other doctor will take it out. He said, "That's not causing your pain," he said. I was in pain before this ... (inaudible), Dr. Kevorkian knows that. I was in pain before the needle was left in, but not as much, since he did this graph. He did a complete graph, a bunch of stuff off my leg. It's a long story.

And he refuses to do anything about it. He just says, "Go home and live with it. Just go home and forget and live with it."

Sherry: Easy for him to say.

Marjorie: It's easy for him to say, very easy.

Kevorkian: Has anyone told you that, Sherry?

Sherry: There's nothing anybody could do for me, and everybody knows that. Or, I would not be ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: When you first contacted me, Sherry, did you write that letter?

Sherry: Yes I did, yeah.

Kevorkian: Now you can't write at all, can barely make an X, is that right?

Sherry: Right.

Kevorkian: You can't even direct your hand to the paper, can you?

Sherry: No. I used to be right handed. ... (inaudible) lefty.

Kevorkian: It shows that everybody can learn to use the other hand. Well, Mrs. Miller, let's have your thoughts. Certainly this is something that's weighing on your mind.

Mrs. Miller: Yeah, it is. But, I go along with Sherry's wishes. This is what Sherry wants to do. And we've been living with it, and we know how miserable she is every day.

Kevorkian: Any negative feelings you have about it? Would you wish that she didn't do it?

Mrs. Miller: No, not now I don't. Now, I'd like her to go ahead and do it, because I know that's what she wants to do. Last year, when she first started talking about it, I was a little bit apprehensive about it and didn't ... (inaudible) It all came as a shock when she said about this doctor that had this machine that he would kill her with.

Sherry: Dr. Death, alright.

Mrs. Miller: That really upset me. But, now we've lived with it, talked about it and just decided this is what she wanted to do. We wouldn't fight her about it.

Kevorkian: Is that the same with you, Mr. Miller?

Mr. Miller: Well, yeah, more or less. Like I say, I don't know what I would do if I was in that situation. She wants to do it--

Mrs. Miller: You can't possibly know until you're in that person's place.

Mr. Miller: That's what I say.

Kevorkian: I'm sure Gary and Ray have some feelings like that too. Gary, what's your real feeling?

Gary: Yeah, my real feelings are that I hate to see my sister kill herself. On the other hand, I have to respect her judgment that says she can decide her quality of life.

Kevorkian: Would you feel better if she changed her mind and went on a little longer? Be honest.

Gary: I've heard her say this for a long time. And I've had discussions over the years with her. And I've never seen her say, "Oh, I have hope, things are going to get better. By the way, I plan to get into some form of therapy, or I'm going to pursue meditation." I've never heard her say, "I'm holding out hope."

And I've gradually seen her, and maybe me more than my parents, have seen-- because I see her more periodically and so the changes are more dramatic to me. And it always has been somewhat of a shock when I come back to Michigan and see that this is not theoretical, this is actually a degeneration. I think she has the right to say--

Sherry: I've had enough.

Gary: That I've had enough. I could not put the needle in her arm. I could not hold a pillow over her head. But, I'm not going to step in and stop her from doing this.

Kevorkian: Is that the same with you, Ray? No different? I'm sure that of all of you, though, Sharon how about you? She's your best friend. Do you have negative feelings about it? Really, anything negative at all? I know that you agree with her decision. Are you saying it because you feel you're obligated to say that?

Sharon: No. My only negative feeling is that I'm going to miss her. I knew her when--

Kevorkian: Susan?

Susan: The same thing is with what my brother was discussed ... (inaudible) a lot and I don't want to lose my sister. But, I want her to have control over what she does with herself.

Kevorkian: Understand, anyone can interrupt. This is not a question and answer. The kind of discussion, just come right in and say what you have to say or ask whatever you have to ask. This is an open discussion. It's not an interrogation.

I'm sure there is, I would feel, there's a negative aspect to this. And I'm sure everyone else, and all the relatives and friends--

__: Well, it's the loss, I think, the loss and the wish that you could do something about it. The wish that you had any kind of control over any part of it.

Bill Wantz: I hear people talking like for you. I don't want to lose this one, but I see her every day. I see her in her pain every day. I can't wish-- I'm not wishing that she wouldn't do it, if I don't know how to ... (inaudible). I told her on the way up, if you don't want to do this, we can check in the motel, spend the night and go back home.

Yet, knowing if I take her back home, she's in the same situation she was when she left, and getting worse.

Marjorie: That's right.

Bill Wantz: But here again I don't want to lose her. Because if I lose her, I'm alone. Maybe it's selfish of me to feel that way.

__: Right, it's selfish.

Bill Wantz: But, when I drive away from this town and back to my hometown, I'm driving back home alone. I came down with her.



FRONTLINE / WGBH Educational Foundation
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation
SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS