Assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian dies at 83

Jun 3, 2011

Update 5:10 p.m.

Here is a piece on Jack Kevorkian from Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett.

In Hulett's story, we hear the thoughts of Jack Lessenberry, who covered Kevorkian for the New York Times and Vanity Fair; the Oakland County prosecutor in 1999, David Gorcyca (who convicted Kevorkian); and Geoffrey Fieger, Kevorkian's lawyer.

Hulett reports that Kevorkian once said that Johann Sebastian Bach was his god - and that nurses caring for Kevorkian played Bach during Kevorkian's final hours.

Update 10:05 a.m.

Here's the 60 Minutes piece that led to Kevorkian's conviction in 1999. Kevorkian administers the lethal injection (previous patients reportedly administered the drugs themselves). He was daring authorities to convict him and adding more fuel to the assisted suicide debate in the country:


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Update 9:42 a.m.

The New York Times reports that Kevorkian's advocacy changed how hospitals approached end of life care:

From June 1990, when he assisted in the first suicide, until March 1999, when he was sentenced to serve 10 to 25 years in a maximum security prison, Dr. Kevorkian was a controversial figure. But his critics and supporters generally agree on this: As a result of his stubborn and often intemperate advocacy for the right of the terminally ill to choose how they die, hospice care has boomed in the United States, and physicians have become more sympathetic to their pain and more willing to prescribe medication to relieve it.

Kevorkian called end of life treatment in hospitals cruel.

In this 1996 60 Minutes interview with Andy Rooney, Kevorkian said many hospitals take food and water away from a dying patient - treatment the U.S. Supreme Court supported, according to Kevorkian.

"Our august Supreme Court has validated the Nazi method of execution in concentration camps - starving them to death!"

Here's the interview (Geoffrey Fieger, Kevorkian's lawyer is by his side):

8:40 a.m.

Assisted suicide advocate, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, is dead at the age of 83.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan pathologist who put assisted suicide on the world’s medical ethics stage, died this morning between 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m., said his lawyer Mayer Morganroth.

Kevorkian, 83, died at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, where he had been hospitalized for about two weeks with kidney and heart problems.

Morganroth said it appears Kevorkian suffered a pulmonary thrombosis when a blood clot from his leg broke free and lodged in his heart.

With Kevorkian were his niece Ava Janus and Morganroth.

“It was peaceful. He didn’t feel a thing,” Morganroth said.

Morganroth said the hospital staff, doctors and nurses said Kevorkian's passing was “a tremendous loss and I agree with them. He did so much.”

Morganroth said there were no artificial attempts to keep Kevorkian alive.

*correction: my first post put Kevorkian's age at death at 84, he died at age 83