Michigan pathologist, Jack Kevorkian, nicknamed "Dr. Death" for his stance on assisted suicide and euthanasia in the USA, died aged 83 in a hospital in Detroit. Kevorkian admitted to helping over 100 patients end their lives.
Burke J. Balch, J.D., director of National Right to Life's Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics, said: "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."
A "60 Minutes" CBS program drew global attention when it showed video footage Kevorkian had taken of him administering drugs to Lou Gehrig's disease patient, Thomas Youk, to help him die. A murder trial soon ensued with this footage as evidence.
Kevorkian was given a 10 to 20 year prison sentence for second-degree murder. In 2007 he was paroled (let out early for good behavior). Second-degree murder is non-premeditated killing, as opposed to first-degree murder, which is. Second-degree murder results from an assault in which the victim's death was a distinct possibility. US states vary slightly on their precise definitions.
Kevorkian tried to legalize assisted suicide as a constitutional right. His efforts were often inflammatory. In 1997 the Supreme Court decided in a Washington v. Glucksberg case that assisted suicide is not a constitutional right.
"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."
Written by Christian Nordqvist