At the age of 83, after helping at least 130
people to commit suicide, medical pathologist Jack Kevorkian, has passed away
in a hospital bed in Michigan. He died without “assistance”. Mr – his licence to practice medicine was
revoked in 1991 – Kevorkian was a lightning rod for the assisted suicide debate
in the US for decades. He was prosecuted unsuccessfully four times for
complicity in the deaths of his “patients”. Finally, in 1999, a Michigan jury
found him guilty of the second-degree murder of a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

He sent a tape of the incident to CBS. The
judge was not impressed: “You had the
audacity to go on national television, show the world what you did and dare the
legal system to stop you,” said Judge Jessica R. Cooper. “Well, sir, consider
yourself stopped.”

Kevorkian was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in
jail, but was released on parole in 2007 after promising not to participate in
any more suicides.

For Kevorkian, suicide was a crusade which he conducted with withering
contempt for the “hypocritical oafs” who criticised him. “My ultimate aim is to make euthanasia a
positive experience,” he told the New York Times in 1990. “I’m trying to knock the medical
profession into accepting its responsibilities, and those responsibilities
include assisting their patients with death.”

The media called him “Doctor Death”, a title
he seemed to relish. To some he was a hero. Australia’s leading euthanasia
activist, Dr Philip Nitschke – who has also been dubbed “Doctor Death” – told
ABC News
, “His shoes will be extremely hard to fill… He started at
a time when it was hardly talked about and got people thinking about the issue.
He paid one hell of a price, and that is one of the hallmarks of true
heroism.” 

In fact, the image of an heroic crusader was a tribute to Kevorkian’s public relations skills, not to his humanity. He was a bubble kept aloft by journalists who were fascinated by his macabre inventions and ghoulish fascination with death and thrilled by his curmudgeonly defiance of the law. Fellow doctors despised him and even assisted suicide activists shunned him. He cared little for the comfort and happiness of his patients; they were just grist for the mill of his dark ideology. May he rest in peace. ~ New York Times, June 3

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.