On Sunday night, November 22, 1998, viewers of the CBS television program 60 Minutes watched in horror as Dr. Jack Kevorkian killed fifty-two-year-old Thomas Youk. Youk, suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, had asked Kevorkian to end his life, and Kevorkian complied by injecting him with poison to stop his heart.
Youk was not the first person Kevorkian had helped to die, but he was likely the last. In 1999, the seventy-year-old Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to jail for ten to twenty-five years.
What Kevorkian had done was deliberately and mercifully hasten another person's death, an act of active “euthanasia,” taken from the Greek word for “easy death.” Acquitted of the charge of assisting suicide by three juries in the 1990s, Kevorkian crossed the line in 1998 by not only administering the lethal injection but also videotaping Youk's death and defying prosecutors to charge him. Kevorkian's goal in life is to overturn America's laws prohibiting both active euthanasia and assisted suicide, in which someone purposely