Jack Kevorkian or Jack the Ripper?
The ending of one’s life, terminally ill or not, should not be done purposely by another man’s hands. If such procedures were considered acceptable, every ill person with no will to continue living would try to find ailments that deem assisted suicide. Jack Kevorkian, also known as “Dr. Death,” was a lifelong activist for physician-assisted suicide. Kevorkian was said to have assisted in 130 suicides of terminally ill patients during his life and is looked at as a sick and twisted killer to many, but as a brave, respected pathologist to others. To look back on his history and past activity, is extremely bizarre and unusual; there is everything from leaving pathology in the 70’s to make a movie, to advocating for the usage of medical experiments on criminals during execution. Assisted suicide violates the Fourteenth amendment, which prohibits government from depriving a person of life, liberty and property without ensuring fairness. The act is also by a general consensus, seen as morally and ethically taboo. However, if the patients asked Dr. Kevorkian to assist in their suicide, is he deserving of the criminal charges he has landed, or should he be seen as merely a doctor obeying his patients’ wishes? The facts that present themselves show that Dr. Kevorkian’s actions were arguably unjustified.
Jack Kevorkian was born May 26, 1928 in Pontiac, Michigan to his Armenian immigrant parents, who themselves were survivors of the genocidal holocaust against their people by the Turks. He was raised Catholic and attended church weekly. His parents’ suffering caused him to leave his orthodox religion altogether at a young age. He believed that if there were a god, such suffering would not have happened to good people. Jack had a relatively normal upbringing. A model student from a very early age, he was alienated from his peers and gave up on friendships and romantic endeavors very early on. He had many talents including photography, writing, painting, and composing. (“Kevorkian, Jack” Gale Encyclopedia of American Law. 6. Detroit: 2011) He portrayed his fascination with death through his many talents. For instance, his paintings had chilling subjects such as genocide, hanging, and cannibalism, which gave him some negative attention in Michigan. Kintz 2
In 1945 Kevorkian enrolled in the University of Michigan and graduated from it’s medical school in 1952. His specialty was pathology, defined as the study of determining causes of death and disease by investigating the tissue of deceased persons. During his first internship, he became very empathetic for a terminally ill woman “and attained an epiphany about the morality and ethics of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.” That, you could say is where it all began. (Champion, David R. "Jack Kevorkian." Great Lives from History: Notorious Lives.)
In 1953, Jack was a medical officer in the Korean War. After being discharged, he published research on photographing the eyes of patients at the moment of death. He found that the second the person dies, the corneas become invisible. His research was to help physicians distinguish between death and coma. During the 50’s, he also lost his university residency for advocating the use of condemned prisoners for experiments, which resulted in a large controversy. Around that time, he befriended medical technologist Neal Nicol. Together, they completed a research project in order to prove that blood transfusions could be done from a recently deceased corpse. After testing the procedure on one another, they both contracted hepatitis.
In 1968, Kevorkian made yet another controversial move by publishing an article praising Nazi doctors for trying to get something positive out of concentration camps. A rather perplexing decision by Kevorkian was in 1976 when he quit as chief pathologist at Saratoga General Hospital and ran off to Hollywood to make...
Cited: Farrell, Courtney. "Background and Early LIfe." Jack Kevorkian. Ipswich, Massachusetts: Ebsco, 2007.
Champion, David R. "Jack Kevorkian." Great Lives From History: Notorious Lives. New York City: Salem, 2007.
“Kevorkian, Jack” Gale Encyclopedia of American Law. 6. Detroit: 2011
Nicol, Neal, and Harry Wylie. Between the Dying and the Dead: Dr. Jack Kevorkian 's Life and the Battle to Legalize Euthanasia. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin/Terrace, 2006. Print.
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