Just five days out of prison, an animated Dr. Jack Kevorkian didn’t mince words Tuesday as he called on the public to take on the right-to-die fight and decried laws that limit personal liberties.
“My new mission is not assisted suicide, my work is effectively done there,” the man known as Dr. Death said in his first news conference since his release from Lakeland Correctional Facility. The conditions of his parole prohibit him from advocating assisted suicide.
It was apparent the man who once defied authorities as he assisted terminally ill patients die is petrified of returning to prison.
“I can’t talk about the procedure, there’s your freedom of speech,” Kevorkian said. “I’m afraid of going back to prison. I’m not going to talk even hypothetically how it should be done because I’m not going to go to prison.”
He said it’s now up to the people to fight for their rights. “I’ll do what I can to help them legalize it, but that’s all I can say now.”
Calling himself the figurative “reincarnation” of Thomas Jefferson — America’s legendary champion for individual liberty — he said he will now pursue speaking engagements to teach the public about their natural rights.
“I’m the reincarnation of Thomas Jefferson,” he said. “I’m doing what he once did — educate and inform the whole masses of people.”
Wearing his trademark blue cardigan beneath a greyish-blue suit he said was purchased for $15 at a second-hand store, Dr. Kevorkian stood for the duration of the 90-minute meeting, speaking passionately about the ninth amendment to the U.S. constitution. His lawyers, Mayer and Jeff Morganroth, sat on either side of him.
“I don’t have to talk about assisted suicide now, because it’s explicit in the ninth amendment,” Dr. Kevorkian said, often punctuating his statements by poking a pointed finger in the air.
Dr. Kevorkian was released from prison June 1 after serving eight years for the second-degree murder of 52-year-old Thomas Youk, of Michigan.
Dr. Kevorkian has claimed to have helped about 130 people die. One of those patients was LaSalle resident Austin Bastable, who suffered from multiple sclerosis and sought Dr. Kevorkian’s services in 1996.
Mr. Bastable’s son-in-law, Mike Macri, said the family is happy that Dr. Kevorkian has been released and wishes him the best in his educational endeavours. “It was right for Austin at the time,” Mr. Macri said of euthanasia. “We thank Dr. Jack for what he did, but past that … it’s not our issue anymore.”
Now, the 79-year-old is reserving most of his public speaking to the promotion of this little-known amendment, which reads,“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people” and has never been tested by the Supreme Court. He plans on taking his messages to local schools and universities.
Dr. Kevorkian said he interprets the amendment to mean that “every right that’s not listed in the constitution … still belongs to the people.
“No tyrant can survive if the ninth amendment has been exercised,” he said.
While promoting the amendment, Dr. Kevorkian was clearly disdainful of government, whom he often referred to as a “tyrant.”
“The tyrant loves to dumb down the population,” he said. “That’s the only way you can win.”
He decried laws, saying they restrict an individual’s rights and only strengthen government power.
“Law to me is an infraction of liberty,” Dr. Kevorkian said, later adding that only laws that guide day-to-day conduct are acceptable.
In 1998, Mr. Youk’s death was induced with the help of one of Dr. Kevorkian’s inventions, a contraption dubbed the “suicide machine” by the media. Dr. Kevorkian videotaped Mr. Youk as he took his own life inside a hotel room and later aired the footage on CBS’s 60 Minutes.
Mr. Youk’s younger brother, Terrence Youk, who attended the news conference along with a handful of other close Dr. Kevorkian supporters, called the pathologist an “incredible human being in general and intelligent.”
Mr. Youk stood behind his brother’s decision to end his life and ultimately, the suffering he experienced as a victim of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“He was facing a very terrifying event in his life, he wanted to leave life on simple terms,” Mr. Youk told a small group of reporters following the news conference. “What’s ensued has not been that simple, but that initial choice, I think that’s the whole point. People should have that choice.”
Members of a disabilities-rights group called Not Dead Yet tried to enter the news conference about one hour before it was scheduled to begin, but were escorted out of the building by security guards.
The two protesters who got as far as the conference meeting area used wheelchairs and wore buttons declaring “Not Dead Yet” on their clothing.
Group president 53-year-old Diane Coleman, who has spinal muscular atrophy, said Dr. Kevorkian preyed on the sick to further his own ambitions.
“The majority of his body count was people with disabilities who were not terminal; he caught them in a time of despair,” Ms. Coleman said before she was ushered away by security. “He hasn’t really been in jail long enough, has he, for a serial killer.” Dr. Kevorkian defended the protesters’ right to speak out. “My opinion is, let the crippled people demonstrate,” he told the reporters. “Anybody can have any opinion he wants.”
…this post forwarded by a Windsor Humanist (N.Hod) after a June 6th, 2007 article by Roberta Pennington in The Windsor Star