Assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian dies at age 83
Jack Kevorkian, assisted suicide advocate who helped dozens of people commit suicide, died in a Detroit hospital on Friday at the age of 83.
The cause of his death wasn’t immediately known, but local media reported that Kevorkian suffered from kidney and respiratory problems and that his condition had worsened in the past few days. He died at around 2:30 a.m. at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. His death was confirmed by his lawyer, Geoffrey Feiger, who represented him through a series of trials in the 1990’s. It’s reported that Kevorkian most likely suffered from pulmonary thrombosis.
Kevorkian, a medical pathologist, challenged social taboos about disease and dying and helped 130 people end their lives from 1990 to 1999. In March 1999, he was sentenced to serve 10 to 25 years in a maximum-security prison. Kevorkian was released in June 2007 after serving 8 years of his sentence for second-degree murder. He suffered from Hepatitis C, diabetes and other problems, and signed affidavits that he wouldn’t assist in suicides if he was released.
Kevorkian’s life story became the basis of a 2010 HBO movie called “You Don’t Know Jack,” starring Al Pacino. Pacino’s performance earned him an Emmy and Golden Globe. Pacino said during his acceptance speech:
“It was a pleasure to try to portray someone as brilliant and interesting and unique as Kevorkian and a pleasure to know him.”
Kevorkian was nicknamed “Mr. Death” because of his fascination with death and escaped authorities for nearly a decade. His first four trials, which were all assisted suicide charges, ended in three acquittals and one mistrial. Earlier murder charges were thrown out by the state of Michigan, as the state had no law against assisted suicide.
People who died using Kevorkian’s help suffered from cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, paralysis and more. They died in their homes, Kevorkian’s van, an office, a remote cabin, etc. Kevorkian compared himself to Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi and called prosecutors Nazis.
Kevorkian's ultimate goal was to establish "obitoriums" where people would go to die, where doctors could harvest organs and perform medical experiments during the suicide process. Such experiments would be "entirely ethical spinoffs" of suicide, he wrote in his 1991 book "Prescription: Medicide — The Goodness of Planned Death." Amid all of his efforts, only several states have legalized assisted suicide, including Washington state in 2009, Oregon in 2007 and Montana in 2009.