America’s leading expert on Euthanasia, Dr. Jack Kevorkian spoke at UCLA on Saturday about his ideology and time in prison, as well as his Armenian heritage at an event hosted by the UCLA Armenian Students’ Association and the Armenian American Medical Society of California.
The lecture included other topics such as his childhood in Pontiac, Michigan; his parents’ experience as survivors of the Armenian Genocide, and his life after being released from prison.
His talk was followed by a question and answer period at UCLA’s Royce Hall and then by a private reception hosted by the UCLA ASA.
Kevorkian, a world renowned pathologist and controversial advocate and practitioner of physician-assisted suicide, who says he has assisted in more than 130 suicides, was tried five times for assisted suicide in the 1990s.
It was only in his last trial in 1999 that the prosecution dropped the assisted suicide charge and charged him with murder. The trial resulted with Kevorkian being convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison for assisting in the suicide of a man in the final stages of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Kevorkian was denied parole in 2005 but released on parole in June 2007 for poor health after serving 8 years in prison.
Kevorkian, believes in the fundamental right of an individual to make end-of-life decisions. Following his prison release, Kevorkian said he would abstain from assisting any more terminal patients with death, and his role in the matter would strictly be to persuade states to change their laws on assisted suicide. At the time of Kevorkian’s release, Oregon was the only state to legally permit doctor-assisted suicide; Montana and Washington state have since legalized it as well. He has travelled throughout the US lecturing at Universities and appearing on numerous television news programs.
In 2008, Kevorkian ran for Michigan’s 9th Congressional seat as an independent. He came in third place and received 2.6% of the vote.
Kevorkian was the subject of the HBO film You Don’t Know Jack, which premiered April 24, 2010. The film was nominated for 15 Emmy Awards. Kevorkian was portrayed by Academy Award-winning actor Al Pacino who was awarded the 2010 Best Actor Emmy for his performance as Kevorkian. The film co-starred Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon and the film continues to garner award recognition from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Satellite Awards, and Television Critics Association Awards.