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Death by Doctor - Case Study

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Death By Doctor

On October 27th 1997 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted an injunction and made physician assisted suicides a legal option in the State of Oregon. Three years later in Michigan Jack Kevorkian was sentenced to 10-25 years in prison for assisting the suicide of Thomas Youk. Born May 28, 1928, and raised in Pontiac Detroit, Jack Kevorkian lived in a community of immigrants. In 1945 Jack enrolled in U of M Medical School for the study of pathology. Before he could do his internship at Henry Ford Hospital his plans were interrupted for 15 months while he served in the Army during the Korean war. It was at Henry Ford Hospital that he earned his famous name "Dr. Death" by chasing after patients taking their last breath to take pictures of their cornea's in order to document any change directly after death. It was during his internship that Jack had a revelation about assisted suicide. Jack Kevorkian risked his freedom, medical license and possibly his life for his conviction in the "right to die" philosophy, because of his compassion for the terminally ill suffering.

It was at Henry Ford Hospital where Dr. Kevorkian had his first encounter with the sometimes brutal nature of western medicine. He watched a middle aged woman suffer and finally die from cancer. The experience was the first that struck a nerve. He describes this encounter in graphic detail in his book Prescription: Medicide. "The poor wretch stared up at me with yellow eyeballs sunken in their atrophic sockets. Her yellow teeth were ringed by chapping and parched lips to form an involuntary, almost sardonic 'smile' of death. It seemed as though she was pleading for help and death at the same time out of sheer empathy alone I could have helped her die with satisfaction. From that moment on, I was sure that doctor-assisted euthanasia and suicide are and always were ethical, no matter what anyone says or thinks." This was the first time he realized his feelings about assisted suicide.

Janet Adkins was Kevorkians first highly publicized assisted suicide on June 4th 1990. He assisted the suicide of Adkins with the Thanatron aka "death machine". Which was a machine he invented that released a sadative and potassium chloride and a muscle relaxant into the blood stream. Adtkins from Portland Oregon was dignosed with altzimers disease and wanted to end her life. She traveled to Michigan to meet with Dr. Kevorkian. After spending a few days with her and speaking with her phasician over the phone and her family members who traveled with her Kevorkian decided that Adtkins diagnosis was correct and followed through with her wish to die. In an interview with Robert MacNeil on The MacNeil/Lehrer News hour Kevorkian was asked about his logic and justification behind the assisted suicide of Adtkins. "A person has a desire and a wish to end



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