(May 26, 1928 – June 3, 2011)
Dr. Jack Kevorkian was commonly known as "Dr. Death", was an American pathologist, euthanasia activist, painter, author, composer and instrumentalist. He is best known for publicly championing a terminal patient's right to die via physician-assisted suicide; he claimed to have assisted at least 130 patients to that end. He famously said,"dying is not a crime".
Beginning in 1999, Kevorkian served eight years of a 10-to-25-year prison sentence for second-degree murder. He was released on parole on June 1, 2007, on condition he would not offer suicide advice to any other person. As an oil painter and a jazz musician, Kevorkian marketed limited quantities of his visual and musical artwork to the public.
Kevorkian wasborn in Pontiac, Michigan to Armenian immigrants. His father Levon was born in the village of Passen, near Erzurum, and his mother Satenig was born in the village of Govdun, near Sivas. His father moved from Turkey in 1912 and made his way to Pontiac, where he found work at an automobile foundry. Satenig fled the Armenian Genocide of 1915, finding refuge with relatives in Paris, and eventuallyreuniting with her brother in Pontiac. Levon and Satenig met through the Armenian community in their city, where they married and began their family. The couple had a daughter, Margaret, in 1926, followed by son Jacob — who later earned the nickname "Jack" from an American teacher who misread the birth certificate and, lastly, the third child, a daughter, Flora. Kevorkian, who taught himself German andJapanese, graduated from Pontiac Central High School with honors in 1945, at the age of 17. In 1952, he graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. Kevorkian never married. He completed residency training in anatomical and clinical pathology and briefly conducted research on blood transfusion, but was unable to function effectively as a hospital pathologist. Kevorkianleft the active practice of medicine and, for a time, was even homeless. Career
In the 1980s, Kevorkian wrote a series of articles for the German journal Medicine and Law that laid out his thinking on the ethics of euthanasia. Kevorkian started advertising in Detroit newspapers in 1987 as a physician consultant for "death counseling". His first public assisted suicide was in 1990, ofJanet Adkins, a 54-year-old woman diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1989. He was charged with murder, but charges were dropped on December 13, 1990 as there were, at that time, no laws in Michigan regarding assisted suicide. However, in 1991 the State of Michigan revoked Kevorkian's medical license and made it clear that given his actions, he was no longer permitted to practice medicine or towork with patients. Between 1990 and 1998, Kevorkian assisted in the deaths of 130 terminally ill people, according to his lawyer Geoffrey Fieger. In each of these cases, the individuals themselves allegedly took the final action which resulted in their own deaths. Kevorkian allegedly assisted only by attaching the individual to a euthanasia device that he devised and constructed. The individualthen pushed a button which released the drugs or chemicals that would end his or her own life. Two deaths were assisted by means of a device which delivered the euthanizing drugs mechanically through an I.V. Kevorkian called it a "Thanatron" (death machine). Other people were assisted by a device which employed a gas mask fed by a canister of carbon monoxide which was called "Mercitron" (mercymachine).
Criticism and Kevorkian's response
According to a report by the Detroit Free Press, 60% of the patients who committed suicide with Kevorkian's help were not terminally ill, and at least 13 had not complained of pain. The report further asserted that Kevorkian's counseling was too brief (with at least 19 patients dying less than 24 hours after first meeting Kevorkian) and lacked a...