Jack Kevorkian built his suicide machine using parts gathered from flea markets and stashed it in a rusty Volkswagen van.
But it was Kevorkian’s audacious attitude that set him apart in the debate over whether gravely ill people could seek help ending their lives. The retired pathologist who said he oversaw the deaths of 130 people burned state orders against him, showed up at court in costume and dared authorities to stop him or make his actions legal. He didn’t give up until he was sent to prison.
Kevorkian, who died Friday at a Michigan hospital at 83, insisted suicide with the help of a medical professional was a civil right.
The justifications for assisted suicide hold up – and they’re consistent. The justification for harvesting the organs of the brain dead, or for allowing those in comas to die with dignity, or even for administering morphine, is fundamentally the same across the board. It is not quantity of life that matters, but rather quality. Kevorkian recognized that where so many were so stubbornly blind and ignorant. He will be missed.
“You’ll hear people say, `Well, [physician assisted suicide] in the news again, it’s time for discussing this further.’ No, it isn’t. It’s been discussed to death,” he told The Associated Press. “There’s nothing new to say about it. It’s a legitimate, ethical medical practice as it was in ancient Rome and Greece.”