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Kevorkian Tells Gupta 'Death With Dignity' Laws Don't Go Far Enough, Doctors Should Administer Life-Ending Drugs

Jack Kevorkian

First Posted: 06/27/2010 12:54 am Updated: 05/25/2011 4:55 pm

Dr. Jack Kevorkian believes laws that allow terminally-ill adults to end their lives by taking prescribed lethal doses of medicine are wrong because they depend on patients -- not doctors -- to administer the drugs.

Because doctors are not allowed to be present, Kervorkian compares it to expecting patients to perform heart surgery without a cardiologist in the room.

Kevorkian, a man called "Doctor Death" by his critics, recently spoke to CNN host and fellow University of Michigan Medical School alumni, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

The controversial doctor served more than eight years in prison for administering a lethal injection to a Michigan man suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. It was just one of the 133 deaths that Kevorkian oversaw as he sought to change the country's perceptions about personal choice and assisted suicide.

In an interview set to air Sunday morning, Kervorkian tells Gupta that the "death with dignity" laws in Montana, Oregon, and Washington state do not go far enough, because if a patient cannot take the medicine on their own, or cannot swallow the medicine, then they are not allowed to die.

During another part of the interview (see transcript below), Kevorkian and Gupta discuss famous physicist and quadriplegic Stephen Hawking.

Kevorkian explains that his respect for Hawking doesn't come from the man's decision to live despite his physical limitations, but from Hawking's brilliance as a physicist.

Personal choice and autonomy are key, according to Kevorkian

WATCH: Kevorkian and Gupta discuss assisted-suicide laws

GUPTA: They could...I mean, there's been some studies as you know and, and I wondered what you've thought of them but in one of the studies out of Colorado they, they said of 75 patients that they looked at of yours, five of them had no evidence of disease.


KEVORKIAN: The original diagnoses though, were by other doctors.

GUPTA: Did that bother you when you read that, that it could be possible that five people out of those had never had disease?

KEVORKIAN: No, no! No, how about a quadriplegic? He's not terminal. Would you want to be quadriplegic?

GUPTA: I don't think anybody would want to, but I'm not sure I'd want to die.

KEVORKIAN: Ok, I would. There's a difference. I would not want to live with a tube in my neck and not be able to move a finger. I wouldn't. That to me is not life. Like, uh, who's this physicist, uh...

GUPTA: Stephen Hawking? That's a good example.

KEVORKIAN: No, no. He's, he's very admired for what he's doing. I don't admire him for that. I admire him for what he did and his brain when he thinks, when he comes up with his thinking. But I don't admire him because he wants to keep living.

GUPTA: You think he should have died?

KEVORKIAN: No, not should have died. He chooses to live, that's fine. But if he chose to die, I would agree with it. Autonomy is the key.

GUPTA: But people don't always know what they want, Dr. Kervorkian.

KEVORKIAN: Oh, they know what they want. They know what they want. Your feelings, your instincts tell you that. You know what you want.

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Filed by T.J. Ortenzi  |