Dying Is Not a Crime — But Killing People Is
Jack Kevorkian, known the world over as “Doctor Death” for publicly pushing a terminal patient’s right to die through physician-assisted suicide, died in a Detroit-area hospital on June 3, 2011, at age 83. The Michigan pathologist gained notoriety for his efforts to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in the United States. He is often quoted as saying that “dying is not a crime.” According to Wikipedia, Kevorkian admitted to assisting in the deaths of more than 130 patients.
Preying on the Disabled, Depressed & Terminally Ill
“Many of the victims on whom Jack Kevorkian preyed were people with disabilities who had no terminal illness; one was simply old. In at least five cases autopsies were unable to confirm any disease at all,” Burke J. Balch, J.D., director of National Right to Life’s Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics, told ChristianNewswire.
60% of Kevorkian’s Patients Not Terminally Ill
The the Detroit Free Press agrees. According to the Press, who reviewed the lives and deaths of 47 people whose suicides were linked to Kevorkian, at least 60% of the people who committed suicide with Kevorkian’s help were not terminally ill. The report reveals that at least 19 patients died less than 24 hours after meeting Kevorkian for the first time and that Autopsies of at least three Kevorkian suicides showed no anatomical evidence of disease. Some victims appeared to be depressed about matters other than their illness and received no counseling.
Kevorkian’s Bizarre Suicide Machine
The CBS program “60 Minutes” made Kevorkian’s bizarre “suicide machine” famous (or infamous) when it aired footage shot by Kevorkian himself as he administered a lethal dose of drugs to Thomas Youk, a man suffering from the final stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease. The tape became evidence in his murder trial when Kevorkian was charged with second-degree murder on March 26, 1999.
Judge Cooper to Kevorkian — Consider Yourself Stopped
The Michigan jury found that Kevorkian had directly killed a person because Youk was not physically able to kill himself. The NYTimes carried a statement from Judge Jessica Cooper where she told Kevorkian: “…you had the audacity to go on national television, show the world what you did and dare the legal system to stop you. Well, sir, consider yourself stopped.” Kevorkian was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder. Beginning in 1999, Kevorkian served eight years of his sentence.
Terminally Ill with Hepatitis C?
Saying he was terminally ill with Hepatitis C, which he reportedly contracted while doing research on blood transfusions, and expected to die within a year, in May 2006 Kevorkian applied for a pardon, parole, or commutation. He was paroled and released on June 1, 2007, on condition that he would not offer suicide advice to again. Unlike his former patients, Kevorkian was still alive and well after his one-year-expected lifespan was up.
Assisted Suicide Not a Constitutional Right
Kevorkian’s efforts to legalize assisted suicide as a constitutional “right” were rejected by the unanimous 1997 Supreme Court decision in Washington v. Glucksberg in which the Court held that assisted suicide was not a constitutional right. However, three states, Oregon, Montana and Washington, have legalized doctor-assisted suicide.
Kevorkian’s Tragic Legacy
“While some euthanasia advocates have sought to distance themselves from his bizarre positions and tactics, his tragic legacy illustrates the dangers to the most vulnerable when compassionate, humane responses to depression or disability are replaced with death as an acceptable final solution,” says Balch.
Jack Kevorkian Dead on June 3, 2011
Kevorkian’s own death came about painlessly as a result of kidney problems, liver cancer and pneumonia, with no apparent attempts at suicide. He was hospitalized in May 2011 with the kidney problems and died on June 3, 2011.
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