Disability Groups Oppose Early Release For Kevorkian
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 6, 2003
DETROIT, MICHIGAN--An attorney will argue Wednesday that Dr. Jack Kevorkian should be released from prison instead of serving out his 10 to 25 year sentence for second-degree murder.
According to the Associated Press, attorney Geoffrey Fieger said in a statement Monday that Kevorkian, 75, has been "more than punished" and that his continued imprisonment "is brutal, inhuman and cruel" because he has a variety of medical problems.
Disability rights advocates were quick to respond to Fieger's announcement.
"We can only guess that now that it's clear there's no legitimate legal grounds for Kevorkian's release, Fieger is jumping in to see if theatrics can make a difference," said Diane Coleman, president of Not Dead Yet, in a statement also released Monday.
Not Dead Yet is one national disability rights group that for years has opposed Kevorkian and his crusade to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia. They have argued that doing so will essentially make it "open season" for people with disabilities and anyone else who is considered undesirable or a burden on society -- particularly at a time when the cost of health care is high. They have also pointed out that most of those Kevorkian assisted in ending their lives were in emotional, psychological and social crises, not in the final stages of terminal illnesses as was believed.
By his own admission, Kevorkian has claimed assisting at least 130 people to kill themselves, as part of his campaign to make doctor-assisted suicide legal in the United States. In March of 1999, he was convicted of second-degree murder for inducing the death of Thomas Youk, a man who had amyotropic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Kevorkian was convicted after replaying Youk's video-taped death on the "60 Minutes" television news magazine.
Past attempts to have Kevorkian released prior to his first scheduled parole hearing in 2007 have failed.