Dr. Jack Kevorkian dead at 83
June 3rd, 2011
08:49 AM ET

Dr. Jack Kevorkian dead at 83

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan pathologist who put assisted suicide on the world's medical ethics stage, died early Friday, according to a spokesman with Beaumont Hospital. He was 83.

The assisted-suicide advocate had been hospitalized in Michigan for pneumonia and a kidney-related ailment, his attorney Mayer Morganroth has said.

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Kevorkian's favorite musician, was put on the intercom so he could hear the music as he was dying, Morganroth said.

The 83-year-old former pathologist had struggled with kidney problems for years and had checked into a hospital earlier this month for similar problems, his lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, told CNN last month. He checked back into Beaumont Hospital in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak on May 18 after suffering a relapse, Morganroth said.

Kevorkian, dubbed "Dr. Death," made national headlines as a supporter of physician-assisted suicide and "right-to-die" legislation. He was charged with murder numerous times through the 1990s for helping terminally ill patients take their own lives.

He was convicted on second-degree murder charges in 1999 stemming from the death of a patient who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease. He was paroled in 2007.

After his release, he said he would not help end any more lives.

In an interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta last year, Kevorkian said he had no regrets about his work.

"No, no. It's your purpose (as a) physician. How can you regret helping a suffering patient?" he said.

In that interview, Kevorkian said that he had three missions in life and that he himself was not ready to die.

One of his missions was to warn mankind of "impending doom" that will come from the culture of overabundance.

"I'm not going to be too popular for that one," he said.

His second mission was to educate people about assisted suicide, and his belief that in states where assisted suicide has been legalized, it is not being done right. He believed that people shouldn't have to be terminal in order to qualify for help in ending their own lives.

Kevorkian's third stated mission was to convince Americans that their rights are being infringed upon by bans on everything from smoking to assisted suicide.

In 2008, at the age of 79, he had a failed run for Congress in Michigan.

Morganroth told the Detroit Free Press it appears Kevorkian suffered a pulmonary thrombosis when a blood clot from his leg broke free and lodged in his heart. With Kevorkian were his niece Ava Janus and Morganroth.

“It was peaceful," Morganroth told the paper. "He didn’t feel a thing."

Kevorkian's interviews with CNN in past years:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: I've rarely been at a loss for words when conducting an interview

soundoff (1,212 Responses)
  1. SAL

    I sat in the Michigan courtroom and along with others watched the unedited version (not at all comparable to the edited version that was aired on network TV) of Kevorkian's videotape of himself killing Thomas Youk, a severely disabled man. We watched in horror as Kevorkian straddled Youk's hips and stabbed his arm multiple times in repeated clumsy attempts to inject Youk. We listened as Kevorkian asked Youk if he was sure that he wanted to proceed and then ignored Youk's response (he later admitted he didn't understand a word the man said). We watched as a frustrated Kevorkian turned the video camera off. When he turned it back Thomas Youk was dead, who knows what more he was forced to endure in his final moments. Kevorkian's lack of compassion and brutality was sickening and everyone in the courtroom with the exception of the Hemlock fanatics saw Kevorkian for what he was-a merciless killer.

    June 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • grandpaof3

      And I believe you, because ...

      June 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Matt

    I'll bet you he's up there with Kurt Vonnegut smiling down on us. "God Bless You Dr Kevorkian."

    June 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. let them all die

    these people who want to die, SHOULD die. no need for them to procreate and spread their mental illnesses to future descendants. not to mention, those who REALLY want to die, will find a way, one way or the other.

    June 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tim O

    He was an angel. In time, we'll better understand what he taught us.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tim O

    An angel

    June 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Al

    I find it amazing that people who think it is perfectly fine to grant a compassionate and speedy death to pets that are in intractable pain will not afford the same mercy to a suffering human being whose every living moment is a torment. Dr. Kevorkian was true to the Hippocratic oath he swore as a physician; "First do no harm". What great harm we do when we try to elongate lives to the point of reducing them to a painful mockery of the very meaning of the word. Mere existence is not life. The people Dr. Kevorkian helped to leave this world were already dead by all measures except the strictly physiological. And yes, if ever I find myself in this position, I will leave this world on my own terms.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. midogs2

    Frankly, I'd like to be the person to decide when my "end of time" is. Languishing is not a pleasent thought.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carolyn

      Rest assured that you already have that right. I suggest you talk to your doctor who will surely get you up to speed on the many options you have as to how your life ends.

      June 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bernard

      Carolyn, No. No you don't have that right thanks to this archaic fear of "suicide" being the one 'other' unforgivable sin in the Bible without reference, thus medical science is tainted by a medieval fallacy invented only to prevent widespread suicide among the peasant workforce.

      At best, you can hope to be shot up with pain-killers or morphine that may help, but as for peaceful euthanasia, we can't. We can only pull the plug in some instances because that's technically letting "nature" run its course, but that is grossly inhumane. Because somehow quickening inevitable death by a week or so to avoid pain is something Jesus hates so much he disregards you and you go to hell.

      June 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carolyn

      Bernard, It sounds like you understand that Kevorkian's victims did not die peacefully since Kevorkian did not use morphine or pain-killers.

      June 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jamison

    I think Kevorkian euthanized James Arness.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Corrine

    Why is it that only one STATE in the United States allows you to die with dignity? Don't know what I'm talking about? Do a google search of death with dignity. People who are terminally ill with no chance of surviving should have the option to end their suffering on their own terms. Speak to your congressman, start writing people! This needs to be available in ALL states.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Actually Corrine, there are 3 states with 'right to die' laws in place. Oregon, Washington, and now Montana. It's been legal in Oregon for a long time now (1994). Kinda shocking how the rest of the country has been lagging behind for this long.

      June 3, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      It looks like you may not know what you are talking about. End of life options are available in every state-just google it!

      June 3, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • andy

      The Feds just busted down the door of some old Lady near me who was selling assisted suicide kits to a guy in Oregon. Yeah, the Feds don't have anything better to do than hassle old ladies with victimless crimes. About time the Feds got off their a$$ and started going after politicians and business man- you know people who do horrible things that effect millions of people.

      June 3, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      We all have the right to suicide. No one can take that away (what would be the penalty?) The issue is whether someone else can "help" us do that. It is a slippery slope.

      June 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Carol, you're wrong. There are still only 3 states where physician assisted suicide is legal:

      Outside of that, you're on your own. Guess you can leave the car running in the garage or something....

      June 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      Michael, assisted suicide is only one of a number of options for ending one's life when believed to be terminally ill. Read some of the other posts. Living wills, advance directives...been around for quite some time now. Check it out!

      June 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. castorpollux

    he should have worked on Bush ,Cheney and Rove

    June 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • andy

      he tried- but they are undead.

      June 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kira1964

      Wouldn't have worked. They are not marginalized members of society. Kevorkian primarily offed people with disabilities who did not have adequate support systems.

      June 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. castorpollux

    he should have worked on Bush ,Cheney and Rove while he had the chance

    June 3, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • godslaw

      he tried- but they are undead.

      June 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rob

    Good riddance.
    I can't stand people who think they are righteous enough and selective about what laws they will choose to agree with and respect.
    I hope is time in jail was painful.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Walsh

      We would still be under british rule if everyone thought like you. This is a country full of sheep like you
      Thank you Jack for having the balls to right a wrong
      Go watch more evening news rob

      June 3, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leondard

      Well to be fair then we can say the same for your death, people who think idolatry of legislation and priest/preacher propaganda is more important that human dignity, suffering minimalization, and in general human progress.

      When that time comes, good riddance.

      June 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stu

      Well Rob when you are diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and you have no chance of survival I hope you enjoy your pain and agony. You know what I can't stand? People like you that feel they must have a say in other peoples lives. If people are in pain and want to die who are you to tell them that they don't have that right?

      June 3, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aron234

      Well Rob, I guess we can assume that you would have resisted the American revolution as well as the civil rights movement. Good thing MLK jr didn't have you as an advisor.

      June 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michael

    I'm glad to see there are many here who will remember him in a positive light, as yet another voice for individual rights and freedom of choice. It was a shame the way the knee-jerk media made him out as some sort of boogeyman in the 90s. He certainly had a trial by television, but looking back on it, he made the entire system seem rather stupid. Thankfully, there are 3 states who have come to their senses and enacted 'right to die' legislation, allowing people to leave this world on their own terms and with dignity. I'm sure that more states will join the chorus and this will be a large part of his legacy.

    A tipped hat to you Dr. Kevorkian.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jan

    God may rest him in peace,he was a visionary.

    June 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis2276

      There are many who said the same of Hitler!

      June 3, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Name*

      just like to make two things clear. Dr. Kevorkian did not sneak up to people's death bed to forcibly perform euthanesia. People who needed his assistance approached him for help with assisted suicide. So he never forced his beliefs on others. He was no hitler. He also was not Dr. Death media circus made him look like. He just stoodup for people's right decide when to end their life following a painful hopeless illness. I personally do not agree with suicides but I won't force it on others.

      June 3, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DArren

    RIP Jack. Thank you for all you did in your lifetime. I'm sorry our system made you suffer for helping those people whom asked for your help. You used your knowledge and skill to end suffering, and the system made you suffer for it. May you be with God almighty and again, RIP.

    June 3, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • 87for22

      Kevorkian used his 'skill' and 'expertise' to slaughter helpless peopled and perpetuate the notion that disabled people are better off dead. Very much like Hitler. I'm not sure either of them can or should rest in peace.

      June 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
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