• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Jack Kevorkian, assisted suicide advocate, dies at 83

June 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian has died at a Detroit-area hospital at age 83, his lawyer said Friday.

Attorney Mayer Morganroth said Kevorkian died Friday morning at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. He was being treated for pneumonia and kidney problems.

He will be remembered as doctor death. He claimed to have helped more than 130 terminally-ill people take their own lives.

Almost single handedly, Kevorkian ignited the debate over assisted suicide and the right to die.

"I will continue to assist humans to alleviate their agony and interminable suffering. Yes, and if that means they have to kill themselves to do it, yes," Kevorkian said.

Kevorkian was a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He published dozens of articles on euthanasia during the 1980s. In 1990, he performed his first assisted suicide.

He established strict guidelines and developed a machine that released a deadly dose of drugs or gas into the patient's body. The device included a button allowing the patient control over the last lethal dose.

Authorities went after Kevorkian repeatedly, but their cases ended in three acquittals and one mistrial. His longtime attorney remembers him as a man of principal.

"It's a rare human being who has the courage as Dr. Kevorkian did - the courage of his convictions and who is strong enough as Dr. Jack Kevorkian was, to stand against never-ending threats and attacks that were made upon us by the most powerful figures in our society," said attorney David Gorosh.

Kevorkian was eventually charged and convicted. In 1998 he allowed a video to be broadcast showing him assisting a patient take his own life.

A jury found Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder. He ended up serving eight years behind bars. He was released in 2007 after promising not to assist with any more suicides.

In 2008, Kevorkian took a shot at politics and ran for congress as an independent in Detroit. He lost, receiving just under 3 percent of the vote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Load Comments