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Dr. Jack "Death" Kevorkian

Jacob "Jack" Kevorkian ( May 26, 1928 – June 3, 2011), was an American pathologist,euthanasia activist, painter, author, composer and instrumentalist. He is best known for publicly championing a terminal patient's right to die via physician-assisted suicide; he claimed to have assisted at least 130 patients to that end. He was often portrayed in the media as "Dr. Death"; however, many consider him a hero, as his sacrifices helped set the platform for reform, with many states having since legalized physician-assisted suicide. He famously said, "dying is not a crime".

In 1999, Kevorkian was arrested and tried for his direct role in a case of voluntary euthanasia. He was convicted of second-degree murder and served eight years of a 10-to-25-year prison sentence. He was released on parole on June 1, 2007, on condition he would not offer advice nor participate or be present in the act of any type of suicide involving euthanasia, to any other person; as well as neither promote nor talk about the procedure of assisted suicide.

As an oil painter and a jazz musician, Kevorkian marketed limited quantities of his visual and musical artwork to the public.

Judge Thomas Jackson, who presided over Kevorkian's first murder trial in 1994, commented that he wanted to express sorrow at Kevorkian's death and that the 1994 case was brought under "a badly written law" aimed at Kevorkian, but he attempted to give him "the best trial possible." Maria Silveira, a professor of internal medicine, said she became involved with palliative care partly because of the attention Kevorkian brought to the complex issue of unintended suffering, adding that he had a tremendous impact and fueled the public awareness of unintended suffering and the need to address it. Geoffrey Fieger, Kevorkian's lawyer during the 1990s, gave a speech at a press conference in which he stated: "Dr. Jack Kevorkian didn't seek out history, but he made history." Fieger said that Kevorkian revolutionized the concept of suicide by working to help people end their own suffering, because he believed physicians are responsible for alleviating the suffering of patients, even if that meant allowing patients to die. John Finn, medical director of palliative care at the Catholic St. John's Hospital, said Kevorkian's methods were unorthodox and inappropriate. He added that many of Kevorkian's patients were isolated, lonely, and potentially depressed, and therefore in no state to mindfully choose whether to live or die.
Derek Humphry, author of the suicide handbook, Final Exit, said Kevorkian was "too obsessed, too fanatical, in his interest in death and suicide to offer direction for the nation." Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan, said that Kevorkian "was a major historical figure in modern medicine." The Catholic Church in Detroit said Kevorkian left behind a "deadly legacy" that denied scores of people their right to humane deaths. Philip Nitschke, founder and director of right-to-die organisation Exit International, said that Kevorkian "moved the debate forward in ways the rest of us can only imagine. He started at a time when it was hardly talked about and got people thinking about the issue. He paid one hell of a price, and that is one of the hallmarks of true heroism."

The epitaph on Kevorkian's tombstone reads, "He sacrificed himself for everyone's rights."
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