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Dr. Jack Kevorkian
Transcript of Dr. Jack Kevorkian
June 4, 1990- he hooked up a 54-year-old Alzheimer’s patient to his homemade suicide machine and watched as she pushed a button to release lethal drugs.
Name Year Age Diagnosis
1. Janet Adkins 1990 54 Alzheimer's Disease
2. Sherry Miller 1991 43 MS
3. Marjorie Wantz 1991 58 Abdominal and Pelvic Pain
4. Susan William 1992 52 MS
5. Lois F. Hawes 1992 52 Lung cancer
6. Catherine Andreye 1992 46 Breast Cancer
7. Marguerite Tate 1992 70 ALS
8. Marcella Lawrence 1992 67 Heart disease, Emphysema, Failing Liver, Arthritis
9. Sue Weaver Williams 1992 52 MS
10. Jack. E. Miller 1993 53 Bone Cancer
Dr. Kevorkian Quotes
"If you don't have liberty and self-determination, you've got nothing, that's what this is what this country is built on. And this is the ultimate self-determination, when you determine how and when you're going to die when you're suffering."
"What differences does it make if someone is terminal? We are all terminal."
"Dying is not a crime."
"The patient's autonomy always, always should be respected, even if it is absolutely contrary - the decision is contrary to best medical advice and what the physician wants."
Who is Dr.Jack Kevorkian?
Born in May 28th 1928, as Murad Kevorkian In Pontiac, Michigan
Grew up in a strict Christian household
Ultimately rebelled against the Christian belief and stopped attending church at the age of 12
Initially went to college to become a civil engineer and by mid-freshman year turned to botany and biology
Graduated from University of Michigan in 1952 in medicine and later studied pathology
As a resident he became fascinated with death and dying
Became a specialist by 1960
Why is he significant?
Assisted atleast 130 ill patients in their deaths
Brought up on charges multiple times but some cases were dropped
Ultimately gets convicted when he physically helps administer the drugs to his patient
Sparked a controversy of physician- assisted suicide nation wide
By: Caitlin Reilly, Elizabeth Gilmartin, Latoya Christie, Matthew Merensky
June 8,1990 - Oakland County Circuit Court Judge enjoins Kevorkian from aiding in any suicides
June 12, 1990- District Court Judge Gerald McNally dismisses murder charge against Kevorkian in death of Adkins.
November 20, 1991- The state Board of Medicine revokes Kevorkian's license to practice medicine in Michigan
July 21, 1992- Oakland County Circuit Court Judge dismisses charges against Kevorkian in deaths of Miller and Wantz
April 27, 1993- A California law judge suspends Kevorkian's medical license after a request from state's medical board
January 27, 1994- Circuit Court Judge dismisses charges against Kevorkian in two more deaths
May 2, 1994-A Detroit jury acquits Kevorkian of charges he violated the state's assisted suicide ban in the death of Thomas Hyde
December 13, 1994- The Michigan Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of Michigan's 1993-94 ban on assisted suicide and also rules assisted suicide is illegal in Michigan under common law. The ruling reinstates cases against Kevorkian in four deaths.
April 1,1996- Trial begins in the deaths of Miller and Wantz. For the start of his third criminal trial, he dressed in a colonial costume-tights, a white powdered wig, and big buckle shoes-a protest against the fact that he is being tried under centuries-old common law.
May 14, 1996- the jury acquitted him.
June 12, 1997- In Kevorkian's fourth trial, a judge declares a mistrial. The case is later dropped.
November 25, 1998- Michigan charges Kevorkian with first-degree murder, violating the assisted suicide law and delivering a controlled substance without a license in the death of Youk. Prosecutors later drop the suicide charge. Kevorkian insists on defending himself during the trial and threatens to starve himself if he is sent to jail.
April 13, 1999- Convicted of second-degree murder and delivery of a controlled substance in the death of Youk, a Michigan judge sentences Kevorkian to 10-25 years in prison.
The First Ten
-60 % were found to be not terminally ill
-Counseling was brief, most patients died after 24 hours of there first meeting with Dr. Kevorkian
-Five cases had history of depression
-He failed to obtain a complete medical record
- Five autopsies showed that they had no terminal diseases (hypochondria, depression)
Impact on Society
Dr. Kevorkian brought national attention to the ideas of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Oregon : Death with Dignity Act (1997)
A vote in 1994 resulted with 51.3% of voters for and 48.7% against physician-assisted suicide.
Finally enacted in Oregon on October 27th 1997, after voters confirmed their initial decision in a vote of 60% to 40% to not repeal the act.
There have been multiple attempts to repeal the law, most recently in the case of
Gonzalez v Oregon
- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that physicians prescribing lethal drugs were not in violation of the Controlled Substance Act.
Washington Death with Dignity Act (2008)
November 1991 - Voters reject initiative 119 53% to 46%.
In the case of
Washington v Glucksberg
in 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that physician-assisted suicide was illegal.
Death with Dignity Act passed on November 4th 2008. The act was based mostly on Oregon's act of the same name.
Baxter v Montana
Robert Baxter was a 76 year old man diagnosed with lymphocytic leukemia.
The Montana Supreme Court ruled that Baxter had the right to physician-assisted suicide.
"This right to physician aid in dying quintessentially involves the inviolable right to human dignity — our most fragile right"
- Justice James Nelson
Vermont Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act (2013)
Enacted May 20th of 2013 after it was passed by the Vermont General Assembly.
First state to legalize physician-assisted suicide legislatively.
Requirements for Prescription
Step by Step Process (VT)
Oral request made to physician.
Second oral request made no fewer than 15 days after first request.
At the time of the second request, the physician offers the patient the chance to rescind the request.
The patient then makes a written request for the prescription, signed by the patient in the presence of two or more witnesses that are not interested persons and at least 18 years of age.
Physician determines that patient is qualified and informs them of all other treatment options as well as associated risks.
The patient is referred to a second physician for confirmation of all previous medical assessments.
The first physician writes the prescription no fewer than 48 hours after the patient's written request.
Terminal illness with expected death within 6 months.
At least 18 years of age.
Resident of Vermont.
Considered mentally competent to make the decision by a physician or court.
The American Medical Association still opposes physician-assisted suicide and active euthanasia.
Many activist groups formed on both sides of the argument.
Not Dead Yet
: A disability rights group.
Compassion and Choices
: Non-profit group fighting for patient rights and choices at the end of life.
- Right of an individual to take their own life
- "To do good"
- Right of every competent individual to refuse or consent to any medical procedures
Right to die
- The claim that persons have legal or moral right to die when and how they choose
Thomas Youk, 52
Final Stages of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
September 17, 1998 Dr.Kevorkian injected Youk with legal substances
Youks family described the injection as humane, not murder
His first tape of the moment of death
Begged to be prosecuted
November 2012 - Massachusetts voters blocked a physician-assisted suicide initiative 51% to 49%
June 1997 - The U.S. Supreme court rules that New York's previous ban on physician-assisted suicide is legal.
Physician Assisted Suicide
The physician provides the necessary means or information
The patient performs the act
Request to end suffering by means of death
Type of situation that involves two (or more) morally correct courses of action that cannot both be followed
Allow patients to withstand chronic pain and die and painful death?
Is he causing harm by killing the individual?
November 1992 - California voters blocked proposition 161 54% to 46%
"You had the audacity to go on national television, show the world what you did, and dare the legal system to stop you," she said. "Well, sir, consider yourself stopped."- Judge Jessica Cooper
Charged with Second Degree Murder
Sentenced to 10-25 years in prison
Charged with administering a controlled substanc
3-7 years- concurrent with the previous charge
Untill 2016, patients requesting aid in dying are required to follow a very specific process. Starting in 2016 a new law will be used that does not require the same lengthy procedures.
The physician performs the intervention
This is the issue that is brought up in the case of Thomas Youk, where Dr.Kevorkian injected Mr.Youk himself with a lethal injection
Locus Of Authority
Moral agent knows what the morally appropriate course of action is but meets up against external barriers
Dr. Kevorkian felt it was morally right to help end these individuals lives, but the external barrier of the United States laws stopped him
Two years parole - Due to health condition
Cannot work in the care of others 62 and older
Cannot take part in the care of others
Cannot be present in any sort of assisted suicide
Who should have the authority to make an important ethical decision
Does the patient have the authority to make their own decision?
Does the law have the authority to make the decision for them?
When faced with an ethical decision, one must make a choice and stick with the outcome. There may be consequences an individual must face, this is the ethical process
Dr. Kevorkian .VS.The State of Michigan
The Ninth Amendment
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people"
He claimed the 9th amendment tells us how to interpret the constitution and just because specific rights are not listed does not mean we do not have them
Dr. Kevorkian Defense
Kevorkian challenged prosecutors to charge him because he wanted to settle the ongoing debate over euthanasia
Stood as his own counsel (refused an attorney) with no judicial background
Failed to convince Judge Jessica Cooper that his witness's were relevant
He claims he wanted to be convicted to be let out on bail and bring the case to supreme court
Angel VS Murderer
Angel of Death ?
“To Janet, he was the answer,” Humiston said. “I’m glad Dr. Kevorkian could do what you saw – what she wanted to do.”
“I know my mom and myself were eternally grateful,” Alan O’Keefe said of Kevorkian’s help.
"Somebody has to do something for suffering humanity," Dr. Kevorkian once said. "I put myself in my patients' place. This is something I would want."
"If he was in any way sincere about what he did, he would have hooked himself up to one of his own infernal machines and offed himself when it became clear there was no cure" in reference to his kidney and heart problems.
"Kevorkian was nothing but a serial killer", says Mark Noonan at Blogs for Victory.
Who is the rightful moral agent to carry out the course of action and be held accountable