Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Supreme Court Paves Way for Prosecution of Kevorkian

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Supreme Court Paves Way for Prosecution of Kevorkian

Article excerpt

THE SUPREME COURT opened the way Monday for Michigan to prosecute Dr. Jack Kevorkian for aiding the suicides of terminally ill patients.

The justices rejected his argument that there is a constitutional right to assisted suicide.

Kevorkian has been charged with murder in the deaths of two people and assisted suicide in three other cases. Since 1990, the retired pathologist, 66, has aided or witnessed 21 suicides.

Most of his patients have been terminally ill, and most have died by inhaling carbon monoxide from a canister and gas mask that he provided.

The Supreme Court made no comment in rejecting Kevorkian's appeal of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that the Constitution creates no right to assisted suicide. The justices also turned down a separate challenge to Michigan's ban on assisted suicide, a suit filed by two terminally ill cancer patients and two medical professionals.

Kevorkian has been charged with murder in the deaths of Marjorie Wantz and Sherry Miller in 1991, and with assisting the suicides of Donald O'Keefe, Merian Frederick and Ali Khalili in 1993.

Reacting to the controversy over Kevorkian's actions, Michigan lawmakers enacted a ban on assisted suicides that took effect in February 1993 and expired last November.

In his appeal, Kevorkian sought dismissal of the charges against him. A separate challenge to the assisted-suicide law was brought by cancer patients Teresa Hobbins and Kenneth Shapiro, both of Lansing; pharmacist William Drake of New Baltimore and psychiatrist Elliot D. Luby of Farmington Hills.

Right To End Pain

Hobbins and Shapiro said that when their illnesses reach the final stages, they want the right to end their pain by committing suicide with doctor-prescribed drugs.

Michigan trial judges threw out the charges against Kevorkian, saying the ban on assisted suicide violated the constitutional right to due process. …

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