Kevorkian to Be Released from Prison Friday

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, known for his advocacy and practice of assisted suicide, is scheduled to be released from a Michigan prison Friday. Kevorkian, who is terminally ill, has served more than eight years on a second-degree murder conviction.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX COHEN, host:

And I'm Alex Cohen.

Tomorrow Doctor Death gets out of prison. Of course, Doctor Death was the nickname Doctor Jack Kevorkian earned for helping terminally ill patients end their lives. Kevorkian spent the last eight years in a Michigan prison after being convicted of second-degree murder.

BRAND: During the 1990s, he was charged multiple times for performing physician-assisted suicide, but because Michigan had no law at the time against that practice, he was acquitted. Here is Dr. Jack Kevorkian, in a 1996 trial, answering questions from his attorney.

Mr. GEOFFREY FIEGER (Attorney): What do you intend, Dr. Kevorkian?

Dr. JACK KEVORKIAN: That their suffering ended. That's the only relief I have. But it isn't enough to counteract the negative emotional responses I have.

Mr. FIEGER: What do you mean?

Dr. KEVORKIAN: It's nice to see a human life end - human life ended. But when the agony is ended, it ameliorates the pain I feel.

COHEN: In that case, Kevorkian helped two patients inhale carbon monoxide through a facemask. Again, Dr. Kevorkian was acquitted.

BRAND: Then, in 1998, Michigan passed a law banning physician-assisted suicides and the voters overwhelmingly approved it in a ballot initiative.

COHEN: But that didn't stop Kevorkian. He then helped Thomas Youk, who was suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, end his life by injecting him with a fatal dose of drugs. He also videotaped the death, which then aired on CBS's "60 Minutes."

(Soundbite of TV show, "60 Minutes")

Dr. KEVORKIAN: Tom, do you want to go ahead with this?

Mr. THOMAS YOUK: Yes.

Dr. KEVORKIAN: Shake your head if yes if you want to go.

BRAND: After that, Kevorkian asked Youk's permission to proceed.

(Soundbite of TV show, "60 Minutes")

Dr. KEVORKIAN: I'm going to have you sign again your name and we're going date it today, okay?

Mr. YOUK: Okay.

Dr. KEVORKIAN: And we're ready to inject, we're going to inject in your right arm. Okay?

Mr. YOUK: (Unintelligible)

BRAND: For that, Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder. That was back in 1999. He appealed to the Supreme Court twice to overturn his conviction and the high court declined to hear the case. Kevorkian has spent the last eight years in prison and he is being released tomorrow.

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