WASHINGTON – Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan pathologist known the world over as “Dr. Death” for his push to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in the United States, died today in a Detroit-area hospital at age 83. He readily admitted to assisting in the deaths of more than 100 people.
“Many of the victims on whom Jack Kevorkian preyed were people with disabilities who had no terminal illness; one was simply old,” observed Burke J. Balch, J.D., director of National Right to Life’s Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics. “In at least five cases autopsies were unable to confirm any disease at all,”.
Kevorkian’s “suicide machine” drew worldwide attention when the CBS program “60 Minutes” aired footage, shot by Kevorkian himself, as he administered lethal drugs to Thomas Youk, a man suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease. The tape quickly became evidence in a murder trial that sentenced Kevorkian to 10 to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder. He was paroled in 2007.
His often inflammatory efforts to legalize assisted suicide as a constitutional “right” were soundly rejected by the Supreme Court ‘s unanimous 1997 Washington v. Glucksberg decision in which the Court held that assisted suicide was not a constitutional right.
“While some euthanasia advocates have sought to distance themselves from his bizarre positions and tactics, Kevorkian’s 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,” Balch added.