Saturday, June 04, 2011

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, 1928 - 2011

Dr. Jack Kevorkian Dies at 83; A Doctor Who Helped End Lives
(NY Times)

I met Dr. Kevorkian through one of my closest friends at Michigan Law School, Nick Holmes, who along with his mother and sister were close friends of Dr. Kevorkian. Nick's mother and sister were integral parts of Dr. Kevorkian's legal team and were important in his several acquittals. I only met Dr. Kevorkian twice, once on the campus of the University of Michigan and once for Thanksgiving dinner at the Holmes residence. He was a brilliant man whose compassion and love for human dignity are made even more ironic by the "Dr. Death" title that the media gave him. I weeped for him the day of his conviction (though we all agreed that he had made several strategic and tactical errors in the positioning and defense of the Youk case) and felt such joy the day he was finally released.

Until I met Jack, I was unsure of how I felt about medically assisted suicide. My professor in law school, Yale Kamisar, is a leading advocate against the right to die. And while I think there are compelling arguments on both sides, I have come to conclude that the right to die with dignity is as fundamental as the right to live. If my difficulties with doctors and the medical system, as an able bodied middle-age man is any example, I can't imagine being afflicted with a terminal disease and in constant pain and at the mercy of an uncaring doctor and medical system. Dr. Kevorkian, was right.

Jack, the world never understood you but is better as a result of your brave and tireless work on behalf of those who were too weak to advocate for dignity, even in death. May you live in eternal peace.

For the NY Times obituary, please click here.

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