Meet the real Jack Kevorkian

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The Article

The infamous Dr. Death is back. After eight-and-a-half years in prison and a parole period of relative silence (except for a ridiculous attempt to run for Congress that, not surprisingly, went nowhere fast), Jack Kevorkian is speaking out.

This month, he will release a book called GlimmerIQs, a collection of paintings, research proposals and musings from his time in the ol’ Grey Bar Hotel. He also chose this particular month to grant his first in-depth interview to Fox News and to hit the university lecture circuit. He now wants to focus his rhetoric on the younger generation because, unlike older folks, “their minds are still pliable.”

That’s just the start. An HBO documentary called “You Don’t Know Jack,” starring Al Pacino in the leading role, will be televised early next year. Since the news release proclaims that Kevorkian “walks in the footsteps of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela,” we can assume he will be portrayed as a hero;a man of compassion who is driven to alleviate pain and champion the public’s right to, as supporters say, “die with dignity.”

The irony is that’s not Jack. The real Jack is revealed by Kevorkian’s own writings, actions and words. If he is about to go on campuses to mould the pliable minds of our youth and unleash another campaign to gain support for state-sanctioned euthanasia, then it’s imperative that we know the real Jack.

Kevorkian killed more than 130 people. Compassion had nothing to do with it since many had no physical illness. The chief medical examiner who autopsied 69 of Kevorkian’s victims found that only 16 were terminally ill. Forty-eight suffered from non-terminal illnesses and five had no evidence of any disease. No wonder he calls Kevorkian “a serial executioner.”

These executions were the culmination of Kevorkian’s lifelong obsession with death and experimentation on the dead (and almost dead).

His Dr. Death nickname stems from the 1950s when, as a pathology student, he made regular “death rounds,” searching for patients about to die and taping their eyelids open so he could photograph corneal changes at the time of death. No word on if he obtained their consent. In the 1960s, he experimented with blood transfusions from fresh corpses, a venture that transmitted hepatitis C to a willing, but naive friend serving as a recipient.

He spent years visiting prisons and corresponding with death row inmates, seeking permission to perform invasive medical experiments on them before their executions. He wrote that “it would be a unique privilege to experiment on a doomed human being.”

His macabre hobbies led to employment problems at various hospitals and, in 1982, he retired to focus on his death obsession and build suicide machines. In 1987, he decided it was time to get established in the business of killing people. So, like any other business, he ran classified ads: “Oppressed by a fatal disease, a severe handicap, a crippling deformity? Write Box 261, Royal Oak, Michigan, 48068-0261. Show him proper compelling medical evidence that you should die, and Dr. Jack Kevorkian will help you kill yourself, free of charge.”

His ultimate goal was to conduct experiments on people before, and after, death. In his 1991 book, Prescription Medicide: The Goodness of Planned Death, he wrote that the most satisfying part of assisted suicide was “making possible the performance of invaluable experiments.”

In obscure European medical journals, he outlined plans for walk-in suicide clinics where suicidal people would have the option of undergoing experimental surgery prior to being euthanized. In 1997, he harvested the kidneys from his victim and then called a press conference to make the organs available for transplant.

That same year, Kevorkian showed a collection of 13 paintings. Each was filled with images of cannibalism, detached body parts, severed heads, rotting corpses and skulls. One even featured his own blood on the picture frame. Not exactly material for the dining room.

According to the New York Times, some Kevorkian supporters who attended the show saw their hero in a different light once they had viewed his artwork. In the words of one shocked follower, “he’s a sick person . . . ”  Now you know Jack.

Susan Martinuk
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