Jack Kevorkian, earlier this year. [credit: WireImage]Jack Kevorkian, the controversial character who ardently championed the right to die, passed away to recordings of Bach today at the age of 83.
Kevorkian had been hospitalized for a month to treat pneumonia and kidney problems, but was too weak to employ his own methods for himself, his former attorney Geoffrey Fieger said.
"If he had enough strength to do something about it, he would have. Had he been able to go home Jack Kevorkian probably would not have allowed himself to go back to the hospital," Fieger announced at a news conference.
Kevorkian became famous in the 90s when he went public with the drug-injection method he claimed allowed him to help 130 ill patients die. He defiantly destroyed state orders against him and released a video of one of his patient's deaths that aired on "60 Minutes" in 1998. The 52-year old patient was suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. Although he was brought to trial four times (he was acquitted three of those times, and his case found to be a mistrial once), it was the fifth trial based on the aired video that sent Kevorkian to prison. He served eight of a 10-25-year sentence.
Controversy continued to swirl around Kevorkian, with critics saying he was in it for the media attention and advocates saying he brought an important medical issue to the forefront. Kevorkian, who once said his work was on par with Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr., later in life said he had some regret about the route he chose.
"It was disappointing because what I did turned out to be in vain. ... And my only regret was not having done it through the legal system, through legislation, possibly," he told MSNBC in a prison interview two years before he was freed.
Kevorkian's profession was clearly packed full of choices and methods that have been and will be debated long after his own death. His legacy, which is includes changed laws and much discussion on whether we have the right to choose our means of death when we are gravely ill, is in stripping down the veneer of fear and laws and traditions around suicide.
Do you believe the work of Jack Kevorkian benefited us in the long run? Should we keep discussing and debating whether physician-assisted suicide should be an option?
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