(born on May 26, 1928) is a controversial American
pathologist. He is most noted for publicly championing a
terminal patient's right to die via physician-assisted
suicide; he claims to have assisted at least 130
patients to that end. He famously said that "dying is
not a crime."
Between 1999 and 2007, Kevorkian
served eight years of a 10-to-25-year prison sentence
for second-degree murder. He was released on June 1,
2007, on parole due to good behavior.
Kevorkian was born in Pontiac,
Michigan to Armenian-American parents. He graduated from
Pontiac Central High School with honors in 1945, at the
age of 17. He then enrolled at the University of
Michigan Medical School, from which he graduated in
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
Kevorkian started advertising in
Detroit newspapers in 1987 as a physician consultant for
"death counseling." In 1991 the State of Michigan
revoked Jack Kevorkian's medical license and made it
clear that given his actions, he was no longer permitted
to practice medicine or to work with patients.
Between 1990 and 1998, Kevorkian
assisted in the deaths of nearly one hundred terminally
ill people, according to his lawyer Geoffrey Fieger. His
son, Zachary Kevorkian, had this to say about his father:
"I don't like to think of him as the 'Doctor of Death',
I think of him as a liberator."
In each of the above mentioned 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
device that he had made. The individual then 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 IV. 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" (mercy machine).
This became necessary because Kevorkian's medical
license had been revoked after the first two deaths, and
he could no longer have legal access to the substances
required for the "Thanatron".
Kevorkian was tried numerous times
over the years for assisting in suicides. Many of these
trials took place in Oakland County, Michigan. In every
instance prior to the Thomas Youk case (see below),
Kevorkian was beginning to gain some public support for
his cause, as is evidenced by the defeat of Oakland
County prosecutor Richard Thompson to David Gorcyca in
the Republican primary. The result of the political
election was attributed, in part, to the declining
public support for the prosecution of Kevorkian and its
associated legal expenses.
Kevorkian also demonstrated a flair
for dramatic publicity stunts at this time, showing up
at one trial in a powdered wig. He protested an
incarceration pursuant to another trial by staging a
hunger strike and wore a placard challenging the Oakland
County prosecutor to bring him to trial for the death of
Conviction and imprisonment
On the November 23, 1998 broadcast of
60 Minutes, Kevorkian allowed the airing of a
videotape he had made on September 17, 1998, which
depicted the voluntary euthanasia of Thomas Youk, 52, an
adult male with full decisional capacity who was in the
final stages of ALS. After Youk provided his fully-informed
consent on September 17, 1998, Kevorkian himself
administered a lethal injection. This was novel, as all
of his earlier clients had reportedly completed the
During the videotape, Kevorkian dared
the authorities to try to convict him or stop him from
carrying out assisted suicides. This incited the
district attorney to bring murder charges against
Kevorkian, claiming he had single-handedly caused the
On March 26, 1999, Kevorkian was
charged with second-degree homicide and the delivery of
a controlled substance (administering a lethal injection
to Thomas Youk). Kevorkian's license to practice
medicine had been revoked eight years previously; thus
he was not legally allowed to possess the controlled
substance. As homicide law is relatively fixed and
routine, this trial was markedly different from earlier
ones that involved an area of law in flux (assisted
Kevorkian, however, discharged his
attorneys and proceeded through the trial pro se
(representing himself). The judge ordered a criminal
defense attorney to remain available at trial for
information and advice. Inexperienced in law and
persisting in his efforts to appear pro se, Kevorkian
encountered great difficulty in presenting his evidence
The Michigan jury found Kevorkian
guilty of second-degree homicide. It was proven that he
had directly killed a person because Thomas Youk was not
physically able to kill himself.
The judge sentenced Kevorkian to
serve a 10-25 year prison sentence and told him: "You
were on bond to another judge when you committed this
offense, you were not licensed to practice medicine when
you committed this offense and you hadn't been licensed
for eight years. And you had the audacity to go on
national television, show the world what you did and
dare the legal system to stop you. Well, sir, consider
yourself stopped." Kevorkian was sent to prison in
In the course of the various
proceedings, Kevorkian made statements under oath and to
the press that he considered it his duty to assist
persons in their death. He also indicated under oath
that because he thought laws to the contrary were
archaic and unjust, he would persist in civil
disobedience, even under threat of criminal punishment.
Future intent to commit crimes is an element parole
boards may consider in deciding whether to grant a
convicted person relief. After his conviction (and
subsequent losses on appeal) Kevorkian was denied parole
In an MSNBC interview aired on
September 29, 2005, Kevorkian said that if he were
granted parole, he would not resume directly helping
people die and would restrict himself to campaigning to
have the law changed. On December 22, 2005, Kevorkian
was denied parole by a board on the count of 7-2
recommending not to give parole.
Terminally ill with Hepatitis C,
which he contracted while doing research on blood
transfusions in Vietnam, Kevorkian was expected to die
within a year in May 2006. After applying for a pardon,
parole, or commutation by the parole board and Governor
Jennifer Granholm, he was paroled on June 1, 2007 due to
"Kevorkian will be on parole for two
years, and one of the conditions he must meet is that he
cannot help anyone else die. He is also prohibited from
providing care for anyone who is older than 62 or is
disabled. He could go back to prison if he violates his
Kevorkian said he would abstain from
assisting any more terminal patients with death, and his
role in the matter would strictly be to persuade states
to change their laws on assisted suicide.
On June 4, 2007, Kevorkian appeared
on CNN's Larry King Live to discuss his time in
prison and his future plans. At the time of Kevorkian's
release, the only state in the United States that had
legalized doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill
people was Oregon.
Activities after his release from prison
On January 15, 2008, Kevorkian gave
his largest public lecture since his release from prison,
speaking to a crowd of 4,867 people at the University of
Florida. The St. Petersburg Times reported that
Kevorkian expressed a desire for assisted suicide to be
"a medical service" for willing patients. "My aim in
helping the patient was not to cause death," the paper
quoted him as saying. "My aim was to end suffering. It's
got to be decriminalized."
On March 12, 2008, Kevorkian
announced plans to run for congress in Michigan's 9th
Congressional District against long term congressman Joe
Knollenberg (R-Bloomfield Hills) and Central Michigan
University Professor Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township).
He will run as an independent.
26 November 1998
Dr Jack Kevorkian, a 70-year-old retired
pathologist, has devoted most of his life to the campaign for assisted
He was born in 1928 in Pontiac, Michigan,
to a family of Armenian immigrants.
He embarked on a career in pathology,
gaining the nickname "Dr Death" in the 1950s through his
efforts to photograph the eyes of dying patients.
Dr Kevorkian became the chief pathologist
of Saratoga General Hospital in Detroit in 1970, but he quit his career
a few years later, travelled to California, and invested his life
savings in directing and producing a feature movie based on Handel's
With no distributor, the movie flopped.
He started writing about euthanasia in
the 1980s, first in an obscure German journal Medicine and Law,
outlining for example his proposed system of planned deaths in suicide
clinics, including medical experimentation on patients.
Dr Kevorkian has admitted helping more
than 130 people to end their lives.
The first suicide he was involved in was
the 1990 death of Jane Adkins, 54, who suffered from Alzheimer's
disease. She died in Dr Kevorkian's Volkswagen van in Groveland Oaks
Park near Holly, Michigan.
Her death was assisted by a "suicide
machine" - built by Dr Kevorkian using $30 worth of scrap parts
from garage sales and hardware stores at his kitchen table.
Six months later a murder charge against
Dr Kevorkian was dismissed - the ruling has never been appealed.
Since then, Dr Kevorkian has been
aquitted in two more trials involving four other deaths.
In 1995, he even opened a "suicide
clinic" in a office in Springfield Township, Michigan, but was
booted out by the building's owner a few days after his first client
Support from colleagues
Dr Kevorkian has been supported by other
doctors. In, 1995, a group of doctors and other medical experts in
Michigan announced they will draw up a set of guiding principles for the
"merciful, dignified, medically-assisted termination of life."
A 1995 study of doctors' attitudes on
assisted suicide in the states of Oregon and Michigan has demonstrated
that a large number of physicians surveyed support doctor-assisted
suicide, in some conditions.
Kevorkian sentenced to 10 to 25 years for murder
Mich. (Court TV) —
A Michigan judge sentenced Dr. Jack Kevorkian to 10 to 25 years in
prison for second degree murder and three to seven years for delivery of
a controlled substance.
Arguing that Kevorkian had repeatedly vowed to keep
assisting terminal patients to die, Oakland County Circuit Judge Jessica
Cooper also denied his request to remain free on bail pending appeal.
"I question whether you will ever cease and desist,"
Cooper said. Saying the case before her was not about the controversy
over euthanasia, but rather about Kevorkian's willful disobedience of
the law, Judge Cooper refused to deviate from the state's sentencing
"This is a court of law," announced Cooper before
delivering the sentence. There are ways of challenging laws, she said,
however, "You may not take the law into your own hands."
While others were working on a proposition to legalize
assisted suicide in Michigan, she said, Kevorkian was with Thomas Youk,
conspiring to break the law.
"You invited yourself to the wrong forum," said Cooper,
referring to his earlier remark that he forced the issue in order to
make his case for euthanasia before the court.
"You had audacity to go on national television, showed
the world what you did and dared the legal system to stop you," she
added. "Consider yourself stopped." Cooper said the people have had a
chance to speak and voted 2-to-1 against assisted suicide in a recent
Michigan vote. When he injected Youk with a lethal cocktail of drugs,
what he did was "murder," she said.
Prosecutors had argued that Kevorkian should get a
minimum of 10 to 25 years because he is a danger to society and has
shown contempt for the law. Cooper agreed.
Cooper said Kevorkian "defied" his own profession. She
reminded Kevorkian that the state suspended his medical license eight
years ago, and therefore, he could not legally administer any drugs to a
patient, let alone administer a fatal dose.
Prosecutor John Skrzynski praised the judge, saying her
sentencing was a "highly courageous thing to do."
"This is not a special case. He is not a special person.
He was accountable to law," Skrzynski said. He added that Kevorkian must
serve two-thirds of his term before he is eligible for parole. After
three acquittals and one hung jury, Kevorkian was found guilty March 26
of second-degree murder and for his role in the televised death of
52-year-old Thomas Youk.
The defense argued that Kevorkian does not pose a threat
to society and was trying to help Youk, not victimize him.
Youk's widow, Melody, asked for leniency for Kevorkian,
who she says helped end her husband's suffering. Youk's brother, Terry
talked about how Lou Gehrig's disease had affected Thomas.
"My husband was grateful for the doctor's assistance to
end his suffering," said Melody, calling Kevorkian's intervention "an
act of compassion and courage."
"It was not a crime," said Melody, "and certainly not a
She said her husband wanted to "bring himself to a
peaceful transition," and had sought out Dr. Kevorkian to help him end
Dr. Kevorkian did not victimize her husband, she added.
"Tom chose it," she said, referring to the decision to have Kevorkian
inject the drugs, rather than have Youk press a button to release the
drugs into his system. Tom had lost control of most of his fingers and
believed "success" would be more likely if Kevorkian administered the
drugs, said Melody.
She said Youk would be "distressed that the man who
brought peace and the end of pain would now have to suffer on his
"He was caught in hell," said Terry Youk, referring to
his brother's final days. Terry said his lung capacity was reduced and
he was choking on his own saliva, and that morphine couldn't help ease
Kevorkian was the only person with the "courage and
fortitude to defy those inadequate and unjust laws," Terry said.
Kevorkian, 70, chose to represent himself during the Youk
trial. He called no witnesses after Judge Cooper rejected his motion to
admit the pain and suffering testimony of Youk's widow and brother.
Kevorkian declined to speak at the sentencing.
Kevorkian has threatened to starve himself to death if
TV's Bryan Robinson, Aldina Vazao Kennedy, and Mary Jane Stevenson
contributed to this report.
Birthplace: Pontiac, MI
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Doctor, Activist
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Euthanasia enthusiast
Kevorkian has been known as "Dr. Death" since at least 1956, when he
conducted a study photographing patients' eyes as they died. Results
established that blood vessels in the cornea contract and become
invisible as the heart stops beating. In a 1958 paper, he suggested that
death row inmates be euthanized, and their bodily organs harvested. In
1960, he proposed using condemned prisoners for medical experiments.
In 1989, a
quadriplegic, too handicapped to kill himself, publicly asked for
assistance, and Dr. Kevorkian began tinkering on a suicide machine. But
a different patient -- Janet Adkins, a 54-year-old with Alzheimer's --
was the first to test the device. It worked. Kevorkian then provided
services to at least 45 and possibly more satisfied customers.
however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Americans who want to kill
themselves -- but are physically unable to do so -- have no
Constitutional right to end their lives. Kevorkian is now serving 10-25
years in prison, and is reportedly in ill health.
Sister: Flora Holzheimer
Sister: Margo Janus
School: MD, University of Michigan (1952)
Kevorkian, M.D. (born Pontiac, Michigan, May
20, 1928) is a controversial American pathologist. He is most noted for
publicly championing a terminal patient's "right to die" and claims to
have assisted at least 130 patients to that end. He is famous for his
quotation, "dying is not a crime."
1999, he was serving out a 10 to 25 year prison sentence for
second-degree murder in the 1998 poisoning of
Thomas Youk, 52, of Oakland
County, Michigan. He was paroled early in December 2006, due in part to
a terminal illness from which he was suffering.
graduated in 1952 from the University of Michigan medical school,
specializing in pathology. In 1970, he became the chief pathologist at
Saratoga General Hospital in Detroit.
Early in his
medical career, he showed a recurrent interest in the subject of death:
In 1956, he published a journal article, "The Fundus Oculi and the
Determination of Death", about his attempt to photograph the eyes of
patients at the moment of death--a paper that first won him the nickame
A paper he
presented in December 1958 that advocated consensual experiments on
convicts during executions led the University of Michigan to ask him to
terminate his residency. A 1961 article in The American Journal of
Clinical Pathology described his efforts to transfuse blood from
dead bodies into living patients.
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.
started advertising in Detroit newspapers in 1987 as a physician
consultant for "death counseling." Between 1990 and 1998, Kevorkian
assisted in the suicide of nearly one hundred terminally ill people,
according to his lawyer Geoffrey Fieger. In each of these cases, the
individuals themselves took the final action which resulted in their own
deaths: voluntary euthanasia.
allegedly assisted only by attaching the individual to a device that he
had made. The individual then 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 employed a needle and delivered the
euthanizing drugs mechanically through an IV.
it a "Thanatron" (death machine). Other patients were assisted by a
device which employed a gas mask fed by a canister of carbon monoxide
which was called "Mercitron" (mercy machine). This became necessary
because Kevorkian's medical license had been revoked after the first two
deaths, and he could no longer get the substances required for "Thanatron".
On the November
23, 1998 broadcast of 60 Minutes, Kevorkian allowed the airing of
a videotape he had made on September 17, 1998, which depicted the
voluntary euthanasia of Thomas Youk,
an adult male with full decisional capacity who was in the final stages
of ALS. After Youk provided his fully-informed consent on September 17,
1998, Kevorkian administered a lethal injection.
This was novel
to other patients as Kevorkian administered the injection himself as
opposed to having Youk complete the process. This incited the district
attorney to bring murder charges against him, claiming that Kevorkian
single-handedly caused the death. Kevorkian filmed the procedure and the
death and submitted it for broadcast on 60 Minutes.
During much of
this period, Kevorkian was represented by attorney Geoffrey Fieger.
Conviction and imprisonment
tried numerous times over the years for assisting in suicides. Many of
these trials took place in Oakland County, Michigan. In every instance
prior to the Thomas Youk case, Kevorkian was acquitted.
even beginning to gain some public support for his cause, as is
evidenced by the defeat of Oakland County prosecutor Richard Thompson to
David Gorcyca in the Republican primary. The result of the political
election was attributed, in part, to the declining public support from
the prosecution of Kevorkian and its associated legal expenses.
demonstrated a flair for dramatic publicity stunts at this time, showing
up to one trial in a powdered wig and protesting an incarceration
pursuant to another trial by staging a hunger strike. He also wore a
placard challenging the Oakland County prosecutor to bring him to trial
for the death of Youk.
On March 26,
1999, Kevorkian was charged with second-degree homicide and also for the
delivery of a controlled substance (administering a lethal injection to
Thomas Youk). Unlike the prior trials involving an area of law in flux
(assisted suicide), the law of homicide is relatively fixed and routine.
Kevorkian, however, discharged his attorneys and proceeded through the
trial pro se (representing himself).
ordered a criminal defense attorney to remain available at trial for
information and advice. Inexperienced in law and persisting in his
efforts to appear pro se, Kevorkian encountered great difficulty in
presenting his evidence and arguments.
jury found Kevorkian guilty of second-degree homicide. It was proven
that he had directly killed a person because his patient was not
physically able to kill himself. He was sent to prison in Coldwater,
Michigan, to serve a 10-to-25-year sentence.
In the course of
the various proceedings, Kevorkian made statements under oath and to the
press that he considered it his duty to assist persons in their death.
He also indicated under oath that because he thought laws to the
contrary were archaic and unjust, he would persist in civil
disobedience, even under threat of criminal punishment. Future intent to
commit crimes, of course, is an element courts and parole boards may
consider in deciding whether to grant a convicted person relief. Since
his conviction (and subsequent losses on appeal), Kevorkian has been
denied parole repeatedly.
In an MSNBC
interview aired on September 29, 2005, Kevorkian said that if he were
granted parole, he would not resume directly helping people die and
would restrict himself to campaigning to have the law changed. On
December 22, 2005, Kevorkian was denied parole by a board on the count
of 7-2 recommending not to give parole.
In a recent
interview with ABC News, Kevorkian's lawyer stated that Kevorkian was
terminally ill with Hepatitis C, which he contracted while doing
research on blood transfusions and was expected to pass away within a
year. Kevorkian had applied for a pardon, parole, or commutation by the
parole board and Governor Jennifer Granholm, and on December 13, 2006 it
was announced he would be paroled on June 1, 2007.
In the 1960s, Kevorkian enrolled in an adult education
oil painting class in Pontiac, Michigan. He combined his understanding
of the human anatomy with his fascination with death and created, as
author Michael Betzold describes in his book Appointment with Doctor
Death, 18 canvases that "are as bold and strident, as critical and
unforgiving, as pointed and dramatic as Kevorkian's own fighting words.
They are strikingly well-executed, stark and surreal—and frightening,
demented and/or hilarious, depending on one's point of view."
Although the 18 original canvases have been lost,
Kevorkian returned to his art in the 1990s to finance his crusade for
assisted-suicide. His art frequently returns to themes of hypocrisy,
pain, war, death, self-destruction, suicide, despair and criticisms of
contemporary culture and Christianity.
His paintings were used on the covers of Acid Bath's
album Paegan Terrorism Tactics and Knife's album East Los Most
In the Late 1970s, Kevorkian quit his job Saratoga
General Hospital to produce and direct a film based on Handel's
Messiah. He was unable to find a distributor for the film, in which
he had invested his life savings.
Kevorkian also released a jazz album entitled A Very
Still Life on which he plays the flute.
The heavy metal band Body Count, headed by
rapper Ice-T, has a song titled "Dr. K". In the song the lyrics
exclaim: "You think your life is tough? Call Kevorkian!"
Suicide Commando released a non-album track called "Kevorkian"
dealing with suffering and pain.
2.12 of the TV show Scrubs, Dr. Kevorkian is paged during a
scene where Dr. Cox and Carla discuss their diminishing
In the 1994
film Naked Gun 33 1/3, Nordberg (O.J. Simpson) suggests Frank
(Leslie Nielsen) call Dr. Kevorkian after his wife Jane left him.
1x04 of Monk, Sharona asks "Do you know who asked me out?
I'll give you a hint.... He's a doctor", to which Monk replies
50 of Neurotically Yours, Pilz-E confuses a tool (an
automatic blood pressure monitor) for a Kevorkian scarf.
episode of the 1994 TV series The Critic, Duke Phillips is
diagnosed with a terminal disease and decides to commit suicide with
the help of "Dr. Krekorian". Jay Sherman eventually convinces Duke
not to kill himself, to which "Krekorian" laments: "I've never lost
a patient before."
In the Married With Children
Conquers Al", after hearing of the Jeffersons' visit to a marriage
counselor, Peggy suggests to Al that maybe this doctor might help
their marriage, to which Al comments, "No, Peg, the only doctor that
can do that is named Kevorkian." .
American comedian Stephen Lynch's
song "Grandfather", from his second album, Superhero,
references Kevorkian. The song is about wishing his grandfather will
pass away so he can inherit his riches. The line goes, "Oh
grandfather die, before the fiscal year. Oh grandfather I/ wish
Kevorkian were here."
In an episode of The Simpsons,
Grampa Simpson is depressed and sees a doctor about it. The doctor
(Dr. Egoyan, like Kevorkian) suggests assisted suicide and hooks
Grandpa up to the "DiePod", a spoof of the iPod.
In an episode of The Fresh
Prince of Bel-Air, the family is in a hospital after Uncle Phil
has a heart attack. The doctor that talks to the family introduces
himself as Dr. Kevarkian, to which the family reacts in
shock. The doctor then informs them of the difference in spelling
On the "Weekend Update" segment
of an episode of Saturday Night Live, Norm MacDonald mocked
Dr. Kevorkian's decision to obtain a handgun license and purchase a
pistol (for self-defensive purposes) saying "Alright, now he's just
The industrial act Grid changed
their name to Kevorkian Death Cycle as a statement of support to
A recording name used by New
Zealand singer-songwriter Jordan Reyne is "Dr Kevorkian & the
In one episode of That's My
Bush, President Bush helps Kevorkian break out of jail to assist
in the killing of his 24-year-old cat.
In the spoof film Wrongfully
Accused, Dr. Kevorkian's name is paged over the intercom during
a scene in a hospital.
In "A Hard Day's Night", the
pilot episode of TV show Grey's Anatomy, Meredith says, "If I
hadn't taken the Hippocratic Oath, I would Kevorkian her with my
In the Grey's Anatomy Owner of a Lonely Heart, George refers
as Dr. Karevian (a spin off of Kevorkian) since he had accidentally
killed a patient.
In the anime series Power
Dolls, the self-destruct system of the Power Loaders (mecha in
the game) is named "Kevorkian Mode".
In the South Park episode
"Death", Kyle tells Stan about Jack Kevorkian (calls him Jack
Laborkian in the episode) and that it's all right to euthanize
people. (Stan is deciding if he should assist in his grandfather's
suicide.) In the episode "Quintuplets 2000", a protester turns pages
on his sign, one of which reads "Free Kevorkian".
In Mystery Science Theater
3000, in the episode "Space Mutiny", upon the sight of an old
man, "It's Kevorkian!" is shouted.
In the computer game Blood,
typing "Kevorkian" into the console kills Caleb (the player
In one episode of Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit, Detective John Munch comments, "when the
old steel trap starts to rust, it's time to call Kevorkian" while
investigating the case of a senile woman.
In the episode "The Suicide" in
the TV series Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld asks, "How long do you
have to wait for a guy to come out of a coma before you ask his
ex-girlfriend out?". Kramer replies, "What, Gina? Why wait, why not
just call Dr. Kevorkian". Jerry replies, "You know I don't get that
whole 'suicide machine', there's no tall buildings where these
Dr. Kevorkian's Chamber of
Torture is a band in Savannah, GA.
In his record Xorcist, on the track "Liqour, Niggas & Triggas",
artist X-raided mentions various mass suicides, and says, "Let me
play that Jack Kevorkian, I'm Dr. Death, assisting a suicide."
In one instance in the comic
strip The Far Side, the Grim Reaper is sitting in a movie
theatre when he spots Dr. Jack Kevorkian sitting with his girlfriend
and the reaper can't remember Kevorkian's name.
In the parody film Shriek If
You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth, the school nurse
is named Kevorkian.
In a Freestyle rap, artist Eminem
says, "Dr. Kevorkian has arrived to perform an Autopsy on you when
you scream "I'm still alive!""
In a Dilbert cartoon, Asok
the Intern asks for "the home number of Dr. Kevorkian" after the
Pointy-Haired Boss gives him a discouraging "pep talk".
Public Enemy featured a song
tiled "Kevorkian" on their album There's a Poison Goin' On.
In the children's television show
Rugrats, the character Grandpa Boris takes out his cell
phone, dials a number, and says "Hello, Dr. Kevorkian" during an
especially boring session of family photo slide shows.
Kurt Vonnegut's book God Bless
You, Dr. Kevorkian, published in 1999, is a direct reference. In
the book, Dr. Kevorkian assists Vonnegut's character in having
near-death experiences which allow him to interview a series of dead
ECW wrestler Mick Foley once
claimed that he was Kevorkian's favourite wrestler, as shown in a
clip from The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD.
Canadian extreme metal band
Strapping Young Lad featured a song titled "Velvet Kevorkian" on
their album City.
Anal Cunt's album I Like It
When You Die includes a song called "Jack Kevorkian Is Cool".
The late Richard Jeni included
jokes about Kevorkian in a segment of his stand up comedy special "A
Big Steaming Pile of Me"; containing jokes about suicide and the
Dr.'s views. Ironically, on March 10th 2007, Jeni reportedly took
his own life (with a gunshot wound to the facial area).
The band The Suicide Machines
originally performed under the name "Jack Kevorkian & The Suicide
Machines" and also released a cassette entitled "Essential
In the computer game Deus Ex,
Paul Denton gets an email in which a company called KVORK Inc.
induces him to to "make that decision which is ultimately the only
real choice we ever have: the decision to die." KVORK Inc. argues:
"Some may describe this as an act of selfishness, but with the
dwindling reserves of natural resources throughout the world you're
actually contributing to the well-being of all those around you."
The Band Chemical Zoo has a song
entitled "Dr. Death"; in the beginning you can hear a nurse say,
"Dr. Kevorkian, Please Report to the ICU."
In his song "Favor for a Favor",
Nas says "I'm twisted like Dr. Death/Kevorkian"
The Heavy Metal band Anvil
produced a song called "Doctor Kevorkian" on their 1996 album
Plugged in Permanent.
In Issue #60 of Marvel's Ultimate
X-Men, a paralysed Yuriko Oyama says to a doctor "unless your name
is Kevorkian, I'm done talking to Doctors."
The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the
Dying by Derek Humphry. ISBN
and Physician-Assisted Suicide (For and Against)
by Gerald Dworkin,
R. G. Frey
(Series Editor), Sissela Bok, 1998: ISBN 0-521-58789-1.
Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Anatomy of a Constitutional Law
Issue by Arthur Gordon Svenson and Susan
M. Behuniak. ISBN 0-7425-1725-X.
Suicide and the Right to Die: The Interface of Social Science,
Public Policy, and Medical Ethics by
Barry Rosenfeld PhD, 2004 ISBN 1-59147-102-8.
Exit : The Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder
by Wesley J. Smith, 1997. ISBN 0-8129-2790-7.
"A View to a
Kill" by Wesley J. Smith, National Review Online, December
14, 2005, retrieved December 14, 2005.
With Dr. Death by Michael Betzold
CHRONOLOGY OF DR. JACK KEVORKIAN'S LIFE
ASSISTED SUICIDE CAMPAIGN
May 28, 1928
Kevorkian is born in Pontiac, Michigan, the son of Armenian immigrants.
Graduates from University of Michigan medical school with a specialty in
Publishes journal article, "The Fundus Oculi and the Determination of
Death," discussing his efforts to photograph the eyes of dying patients,
a practice that earned him the nickname "Doctor Death."
Presents paper at meeting in Washington, D.C., advocating medical
experimentation on consenting convicts during executions. Embarrassed,
University of Michigan officials ask Kevorkian to leave his residency
Publishes article in The American Journal of Clinical Pathology
detailing his experiments on transfusing blood from cadavers to live
Becomes chief pathologist at Saratoga General Hospital in Detroit.
Quits pathology career, travels to California, and invests life savings
in directing and producing a feature movie based on Handel's "Messiah."
With no distributor, the movie flops.
Publishes numerous articles in the obscure German journal Medicine
and Lawoutlining his ideas on euthanasia and ethics.
Advertises in Detroit papers as a "physician consultant" for "death
Kevorkian's article, "The Last Fearsome Taboo: Medical Aspects of
Planned Death," is published in Medicine and Law. In it, he
outlines his proposed system of planned deaths in suicide clinics,
including medical experimentation on patients.
Using $30 worth of scrap parts scrounged from garage sales and hardware
stores, Kevorkian builds his "suicide machine" at the kitchen table of
his Royal Oak, Michigan, apartment.
June 4, 1990
Kevorkian is present at the death of Janet Adkins, a 54-year-old
Portland, Oregon, woman with Alzheimer's disease. Her death using the
"suicide machine" occurs in Kevorkian's 1968 Volkswagen van in Groveland
Oaks Park near Holly, Michigan.
June 8, 1990
An Oakland County Circuit Court Judge enjoins Kevorkian from aiding in
December 12, 1990
District Court Judge Gerald McNally dismisses murder charge against
Kevorkian in death of Adkins.
October 23, 1991
Kevorkian attends the deaths of Marjorie Wantz, a 58-year-old Sodus,
Michigan, woman with pelvic pain, and Sherry Miller, a 43-year-old
Roseville, Michigan, woman with multiple sclerosis. The deaths occur at
a rented state park cabin near Lake Orion, Michigan. Wantz dies from the
suicide machine's lethal drugs, Miller from carbon monoxide poisoning
inhaled through a face mask.
November 20, 1991
The state Board of Medicine summarily revokes Kevorkian's license to
practice medicine in Michigan.
May 15, 1992
Susan Williams, a 52-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis, dies from
carbon monoxide poisoning in her home in Clawson, Michigan.
July 21, 1992
Oakland County Circuit Court Judge David Breck dismisses charges against
Kevorkian in deaths of Miller and Wantz. Oakland County Prosecutor
Richard Thompson appeals.
September 26, 1992
Lois Hawes, 52, a Warren, Michigan, woman with lung and brain cancer,
dies from carbon monoxide poisoning at the home of Kevorkian's assistant
Neal Nicol in Waterford Township, Michigan.
November 23, 1992
Catherine Andreyev of Moon Township, Pennsylvania, dies in Nicol's home.
She was 45 and had cancer. Hers is the first of 10 deaths Kevorkian
attends over the next three months; all die from inhaling carbon
December 3, 1992
The Michigan Legislature passes a ban on assisted suicide to take effect
on March 30, 1993.
February 15, 1993
Hugh Gale, a 70-year-old man with emphysema and congestive heart
disease, dies in his Roseville home. Prosecutors investigate after
Right-to-Life advocates find papers that show Kevorkian altered his
account of Gale's death, deleting a reference to a request by Gale to
halt the procedure.
February 25, 1993
Michigan Governor John Engler signs the legislation banning assisted
suicide. It makes aiding in a suicide a four-year felony but allows law
to expire after a blue-ribbon commission studies permanent legislation.
April 27, 1993
A California law judge suspends Kevorkian's medical license after a
request from that state's medical board.
August 4, 1993
Thomas Hyde, a 30-year-old Novi, Michigan, man with ALS, is found dead
in Kevorkian's van on Belle Isle, a Detroit park.
September 9, 1993
Hours after a judge orders him to stand trial in Hyde's death, Kevorkian
is present at the death of cancer patient Donald O'Keefe, 73, in Redford
November 5-8, 1993
Kevorkian fasts in Detroit jail after refusing to post $20,000 bond in
case involving Hyde's death.
November 29, 1993
Kevorkian begins fast in Oakland County jail for refusing to post
$50,000 bond after being charged in the October death of Merian
December 17, 1993
Kevorkian ends fast and leaves jail after Oakland County Circuit Court
Judge reduces bond to $100 in exchange for his vow not to assist in any
more suicides until state courts resolve the legality of his practice.
January 27, 1994
Circuit Court Judge dismisses charges against Kevorkian in two deaths,
becoming the fifth lower court judge in Michigan to rule that assisted
suicide is a constitutional right.
May 2, 1994
A Detroit jury acquits Kevorkian of charges he violated the state's
assisted suicide ban in the death of Thomas Hyde.
May 10, 1994
The Michigan Court of Appeals strikes down the state's ban on assisted
suicide on the grounds it was enacted unlawfully.
November 8, 1994
Oregon becomes the first state to legalize assisted suicide when voters
pass a tightly restricted Death with Dignity Act. But legal appeals keep
the law from taking effect.
November 26, 1994
Hours after Michigan's ban on assisted suicide expires, 72-year-old
Margaret Garrish dies of carbon monoxide poisoning in her home in Royal
Oak. She had arthritis and osteoporosis. Kevorkian is not present when
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.
June 26, 1995
Kevorkian opens a "suicide clinic" in an office in Springfield Township,
Michigan. Erika Garcellano, a 60-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, woman
with ALS, is the first client. A few days later, the building's owner
kicks out Kevorkian.
September 14, 1995
Kevorkian arrives at the Oakland County Courthouse in Pontiac, Michigan
in homemade stocks with ball and chain. He is ordered to stand trial for
assisting in the 1991 suicides of Sherry Miller and Marjorie Wantz.
October 30, 1995
A group of doctors and other medical experts in Michigan announces its
support of Kevorkian, saying they will draw up a set of guiding
principles for the "merciful, dignified, medically-assisted termination
February 1, 1996
New England Journal of Medicine publishes massive studies of physicians
attitudes towards doctor-assisted suicide in Oregon and Michigan.
Studies demonstrate that a large number of physicians surveyed support,
in some conditions, doctor-assisted suicide.
March 6, 1996
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rules that
mentally competent, terminally ill adults have a constitutional right to
aid in dying from doctors, health care workers and family members. It is
the first time a federal appeals court endorses assisted suicide.
March 8, 1996
A jury acquits Kevorkian in two deaths.
March 20, 1996
Representative Dave Camp (R-MI), introduces a bill in the U.S. House to
prohibit tax-payer funding of assisted suicide.
Trial begins in Kevorkian's home town of Pontiac in the deaths of Miller
and Wantz. For the start of his third criminal trial, he wears 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.
He would face a maximum of five years in prison and a $10, 000 fine if
convicted in the Wantz/Miller deaths. On May 14, 1996 the jury acquitted
November 4, 1996
Kevorkian's lawyer announces a previously unreported assisted suicide of
a 54-year-old woman. This brings the total number of his assisted
suicides, since 1990, to 46.
June 12, 1997
In Kevorkian's fourth trial, a judge declares a mistrial. The
case is later dropped.
June 26, 1997
The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously that state governments have the
right to outlaw doctor-assisted suicide. The Court had been asked to
decide whether state laws banning the practice in New York and
Washington were unconstitutional.
November 5, 1997
Oregon residents vote to uphold the state's assisted suicide law, the
first of its kind in the nation. The law allows doctors to prescribe
lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients.
March 14, 1998
This day marks Kevorkian's 100th assisted suicide, involving a
66-year-old Detroit man.
September 1, 1998
Michigan's second law outlawing physician-assisted suicide goes into
November 3, 1998
Michigan voters reject a proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide
for the terminally ill.
November 22, 1998
CBS's "60 Minutes" airs a videotape showing Kevorkian giving a lethal
injection to Thomas Youk, 52, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease.
The broadcast triggers an intense debate within medical, legal and media
November 24, 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.
Kevorkian and longtime attorney
Geoffrey Fieger officially split up over disagreeance of Kevorkian
representing himself as his own lawyer.
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. He would be eligible for parole in six years. Kevorkian
plans to appeal.
March 15, 2000
Kevorkian gets receives Civil Activist Award from the Gleitsman
Foundation as he awaits for court appeal date.