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Dr. Death Gets Out of Jail

Will the media finally tell the truth about the ghoulish aspirations of Jack Kevorkian?

7:00 AM, Dec 14, 2006 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
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Kevorkian suggested in Prescription Medicide that assisted suicide should include the option of organ harvesting. In 1998, he decided to act on this desire. Oakland County (Michigan) medical examiner L. J. Dragovic reported that the body of Joseph Tushkowski, who had quadriplegia, underwent "a bizarre mutilation" after his apparent homicide. According to the autopsy findings, after Tushkowski died by lethal injection, the mutilator crudely ripped out the dead man's kidneys. In a macabre scene the medical examiner called out of a "slaughterhouse," the perpetrator simply lifted up Tushkowski's sweater, did his dirty work, and tied off the blood vessels with twine.

The mutilator was Jack Kevorkian. He proudly admitted that he removed Tushkowski's organs at a news conference where he offered the organs for transplant, "First come, first served."

But even this outrage almost pales in comparison to Kevorkian's ultimate goal--human vivisection. Kevorkian was obsessed with death and, as described in Prescription Medicide--but rarely reported in the media--his ultimate aim was to gain license to conduct experiments on living people he was euthanizing to "penetrate the mystery of death." Thus Kevorkian wrote:

[K]nowledge about the essence of human death will of necessity require insight into the nature of the unique awareness or consciousness that characterizes cognitive human life. That is possible only through obitiatric research on living human bodies, and most likely concentrating on the central nervous system.

Toward this end, he had spent years attempting to convince condemned prisoners and the authorities to permit him to cut open those being executed. Only after that effort failed did he turn his focus to the sick, disabled, and depressed--in the hope that through assisting their deaths he would eventually be permitted to conduct this macabre and useless research.

As I once wrote in THE WEEKLY STANDARD ("The Serial Killer as Folk Hero"), "Jack Kevorkian is a quack, a ghoul, and a fiend." He is a quack because, though trained as a pathologist, he had no training or expertise in diagnosing or treating depression, nor had he treated a living patient after his residency and military service in the 1950s. He is a ghoul because he is obsessed with death. He is a fiend because of what he did to Joseph Tushkowski and because he was motivated in all he did by his dream of slicing open living people.

Unfortunately, this ugly truth will probably be lost in the stampede to talk and write about Kevorkian after his release from prison. Instead, we will hear of Jack the Martyred Saint, a man punished simply because he wanted to alleviate the suffering of "the terminally ill."

But that's never been Kevorkian's purpose, and he's never tried to hide it.

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, an attorney for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His website is