Assisted suicide doctor cleared
Saturday 09 March 1996
Dr Kevorkian, 67, a retired pathologist, could have received four years in prison and been fined $2,000 (pounds 1,300) on each count had he been convicted of violating Michigan's now-expired law against assisting in a suicide. It was his second acquittal in two years.
The patients, one of whom had Lou Gehrig's disease and the other bone cancer, died by breathing carbon monoxide through a mask in a suburban Detroit apartment rented by Dr Kevorkian. The verdict came two days after a ruling by a US federal appeal court declaring a constitutional right to die which has divided American doctors and set the scene for a national debate over the issue of assisted suicide.
The decision was a virtual invitation to the Supreme Court to step into an area of medical ethics that pits the sanctity of life against personal freedom of choice, legal experts said.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco declared on Wednesday that a mentally competent, terminally ill adult "has a strong liberty interest in choosing a dignified and humane death rather than being reduced at the end of his existence to a childlike state of helplessness, diapered, sedated, incompetent".
The ruling, in a case involving three terminally ill patients, all of whom have since died, applies to nine western states from California to Alaska.
The court overturned local statutes banning assisted suicide and said doctors, pharmacists and family members who helped a patient to an early death were not to be prosecuted. Though polls suggest most US doctors favour legalising assisted suicide, the American Medical Association attacked the ruling, as did some churches. Right-to-life groups raised the spectre of bungled mercy killings and of people pushed into choosing death by the pressure of medical bills or impatient family members.
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
FCKH8: Provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing reinstated by YouTube
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary English Teacher for a academy ...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Humanities Teacher needed for a maternit...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Art Teacher Kir...
£23000 - £33000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: English Intervention Teac...