Well executed, Mr Kevorkian.
and defending himself in court is never a good idea
nebulawindphone: But he clearly had an intense, almost morbid fascination with death and suffering. And he clearly liked provoking people.
Those can be good qualities in an artist. They're neutral at best in a doctor. They're terrible qualities to have in the Public Face Of Your Political Movement.
Kevorkian once told a reporter, “I wish my forefathers went through what the Jews did. The Jews were gassed. Armenians were killed in every conceivable way. Pregnant women were split open with bayonets and babies taken out. They were drowned, burned, heads were smashed in vices. They were chopped in half.” The Jews, according to Kevorkian, “had a lot of publicity, but they didn’t suffer as much.”
Back in the States after the war, he found work as an autopsist at the University of Michigan Medical Center and began to pursue unorthodox research in his free time. Dr. Kevorkian would sit for hours staring into the eyes of the dead. When an electrocardiogram in the hospital ward signaled that a patient’s heart was about to stop, Kevorkian would tape open his or her eyes and snap photographs. With an almost painterly eye, the doctor captured the retina’s color over time as it shifted to a pale orange-red, then yellow, and finally gray. His findings — invaluable for medical examiners looking to determine time of death, after the fact — were published in a scholarly article in the American Journal of Pathology whose tone betrays an unnerving enthusiasm: “Let me emphasize one point: a drop or two of water or saline must be put on the exposed cornea before postmortem opthalmoscopy is ever attempted!… If this is done, one may observe leisurely and continuously for hours.”
On one occasion in which he was incarcerated, pending an appeal, the Doctor went on hunger strike for eighteen days. He nearly died. In his cell, a hallucinating, disoriented Kevorkian told Hugh Gale’s widow, “I will not be a slave. My people were slaves, and they were slaughtered.”
he was thrilled to discover that thirteenth-century Armenian physicians had performed medical experiments on criminals condemned to execution. For Kevorkian, vivisection was no breach of medical ethics — on the contrary, the revelatory investigation of those condemned bodies furthered the development of medicines that would save lives in the future. In this way the convicts themselves had contributed enormously to the store of human knowledge; their deaths had not been meaningless.
Why shouldn’t criminals on death row be given the opportunity to give back to society? It wasn’t just the Armenians; Alexandrian doctors in the days of Ptolemy had performed similar experiments on sentenced criminals. Kevorkian became obsessed with the idea of adapting this ancient practice to the modern American penal system. He insisted that he was personally opposed to the death penalty, but that if the state was going to be in the business of taking human lives, costing taxpayers millions of dollars every year, those deaths ought to be in the service of life. Instead of the electric chair, the gas chamber, or the firing squad, a consenting convict on the day of execution would be put under. His body, particularly his brain, would be experimented upon; then his organs would be carefully harvested for transplant surgeries. Finally, he would be put to death by a lethal dose of anesthesia. Kevorkian invoked Ptolemaic doctors in support of the practice, but the notion carried other, less remote echoes — whispers that Turkish doctors had performed medical experiments on live Armenians, just as Nazi doctors had done to Jews.
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