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June 3rd, 2011
11:45 AM ET

Gupta on Kevorkian: Rest in peace

No matter how old someone is, or how sick they have been, it still comes as a shock to hear they have died. 83-year-old Jack Kevorkian, Dr. Death himself, died this morning as Bach, his favorite, played over the intercom.  I felt an involuntary gasp of air in my throat when I learned of his passing.

Last June, he agreed to sit down with me, and participate in what would be the last TV interview of his life. We sat and talked under an impossibly blue sky on the campus of the University of Michigan. I wrote the story at the link below soon after we spoke.

Dr. Kevorkian told me he was afraid to die. “Just like everyone else,” he added. If you sat and listened to him, that wouldn’t seem nearly as ironic as you think. He also said he wasn’t ready to die. He said he needed to warn the world about the perils of an overabundant society, change their views on euthanasia, and help re-establish the glory of the 9th amendment.

As often happens in death, Dr. Kevorkian may now be even more likely to achieve those goals.

I told Jack I hoped to see him again one day. And, I meant it. RIP.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta on his conversation with Dr. Jack Kevorkian, originally posted on June 14th, 2010


soundoff (245 Responses)
  1. Louie

    If pain medications were properly administered there would be no clamor from Dr. Kevorkian and others for the taking of lives before natural death occurs.

    June 3, 2011 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ali

      I'm not saying I believe in Doctor-Assisted Suicide, but it's not about the pain in most cases from what I understand. It's about dignity. As I said, I don't know where I stand on the issue, but I just wanted to point that out.

      June 3, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      Here in Oregon we have legal assisted suicide.. I am so grateful to know that my end of life experience is one that I can control with dignity and pain free.. This is ones own choice , if you read stories of people here who have used this you would be amazed... It actually gives one the last chance to say good bye, and you won't have to watch me suffer, and 3 to 5 hours later I am gone.. This is how it should be for anyone who is terminal and wants dignity !!!

      June 3, 2011 at 19:53 | Report abuse |
    • TF

      Dignity is the issue that concerns most people with terminal illness, not pain. For example, very often people who suffer cancers that cause bowel blockage end up vomiting their own feces. Patients with these illnesses fear this complication, which often occurs in the very end stages of their disease. A young Australian woman who wished to be allowed to terminate her life explained that this complication was her greatest fear, along with the pain, helplessness and debility. She was not given permission to peacefully speed along her own passing, and had to suffer through a few more days – and yes, she ended up vomiting her own feces before the end. Why should anyone have to experience such a thing when they're going to die within days anyway? Could you bear vomiting your own feces?

      June 3, 2011 at 20:03 | Report abuse |
    • karen

      You are correct. Dr. Kevorkian is wrong about the death life experience. As a practicing nurse Dr. K. is way off what is really happening.
      May God have mercy on his soul.

      June 4, 2011 at 00:03 | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Karen, I am terminally ill, and you offend me. It's MY choice not yours, you do not get to make that decision for me.

      June 4, 2011 at 02:31 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Karen, I am terminally ill and in considerable pain that is often too much to bear. You do not offend me. Kevorkian did not care about the people he euthanized. Most of them were not even dying as their autopies proved. Kevorkian used people in their and wallowed in the attention he received from killing them. I don't want to be used and taken advantage of in my final days. That is not the choice I or autonomy I wish to have as I am dying. Kevorkian did not expand choice for the victims. He took it away.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:57 | Report abuse |
    • gpgpgp

      Think about the relevance of overpopulation and our planet ecosystem. Human population has grown so quickly that our planet ecosytem can no longer support or exist as it is supposed to. Extinction of animals and plants, etc. is happening because of overpopulation. You may not care about this or want to believe it but at some point you are going to have to. This fact was a big part of Dr. K's belief system.

      June 5, 2011 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
    • steviejimbobjones

      TF- the vomiting of feces: i think i saw that on South Park. Great episode!

      June 6, 2011 at 02:19 | Report abuse |
    • teresa

      ADULT STEM CELLS CURE'S AIDS / HIV and A NUMBER OF OTHER THINGS BUT WHY????? IS AMERICA BEING HELD BACK FROM THE MAJOR LEAP IN MEDICINE DOES AMERICA WANT TOO KILL YOU ??????? OTHER COUNTRIES MAKING MAJOR LEAPS INTO MEDICINE BUT AMERICA IS STILL IN THE STONE AGE WHY????? WHO BENEFITS THE FDA BIG CORPORATIONS .......??

      October 17, 2011 at 22:18 | Report abuse |
  2. JenLaw

    Thank you Todd, rest assured you are correct.

    June 3, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Heidi

    Great man. It should be noted though that he had an interview more recent than the interview with Gupta. Ron Bennington had an amazing interview with him on June 24, 2010. It is an amazing, and may have actually been his last interview. http://wp.me/p1ksja-bh

    June 3, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah

      Heidi - did you really get on this blog to post that? Who is Ron Bennington, and why do I care? Gupta said he has the last TV interview. Is that not correct?

      June 4, 2011 at 00:13 | Report abuse |
    • Cruel Circus

      Sarah,
      The article was edited AFTER people pointed out that Gupta was taking credit for something he shouldn't have. At the least, you should care b/c I'd think you'd want to be able to expect cnn.com to be honest, but also, if you are interested in Dr. Kevorkian, it is another fascinating interview with him- one w/o time limit or edit that sort of let's Kevorkian talk about anything he wants.

      June 19, 2011 at 02:57 | Report abuse |
  4. Timothy J

    I would say R.I.P. But there is no rest for the dead, because there is no 'is'. For those who have known the deepest depths of suffering, for those who can imagine being nothing but a piece of meat waiting to die, because no one cares about your rights, only their opinions of the "value of life", Dr. Kevorkian can be nothing but a hero.
    For those who love to moralize, who have no idea what "life" and love is really about, Dr. Kevorkian can be nothing but a villain.

    June 3, 2011 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CD6908

      For those who believe life is more than a beating heart or coherent mind, Dr Kevorkian is not a hero. Whatever his intentions – good and/or bad – his ultimate contribution will be giving people no hope, only death. Love is sacrifice, an action to care for others. It is in suffering that we are permitted to give our greatest love. Suffering itself is not a good thing; but the results of it can be. I have great compassion for those suffering; but killing yourself, or asking someone else to do it, is not love or good.

      June 3, 2011 at 16:27 | Report abuse |
    • joy

      CD – oh please get off your high horse. This is all about the need to die with peace and dignity. We put our beloved pets out of their misery and pat ourselves on the back for not letting them suffer but the minute it is a human – prolong life at all costs!!!

      June 3, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse |
    • Martha C.

      Well said, Timothy J!

      June 3, 2011 at 18:37 | Report abuse |
    • TF

      CD – I wonder if you would say that if you were suffering – or if you were watching a loved one suffer. Real suffering. I think your theology (yes, I know you're spouting Catholic dogma here with its emphasis on how wonderful it is to suffer because it's an indication of God's love) would change if the suffering began in your life.

      June 3, 2011 at 20:07 | Report abuse |
    • Eve

      Beautifully put,Timothy J,,and it's so true. Take it from somebody who is terminally ill: Living life whilst dying is an endless exercise in pain and frustration, and it's horrible. i only wish I could have been dealt with by Dr. Jack Kevorkian. I think he performed a great service, and as one who is dealing with it, I can honestly say that, as for the rest of you, until you're in my shoes, perhaps you should shut up, because you just don't know. You aren't there yet, and until you are, you won't get it. I can only hope you never find yourselves in those shoes.I really could never wish it o anyone.

      June 4, 2011 at 15:05 | Report abuse |
    • dede

      nicely put. i agree. Until you are suffering and dealing with the perils of pain and death, how do you really know where you stand on the issue. If you've ever seen a person die from cancer or aids maybe you can understand. maybe.

      June 4, 2011 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      Only God can judge and I am sure that Dr. Kevorkian is facing the consequences of his actions on assisting dying people to die. God is the only one that gives life and takes it away. It is plain and simple. I took care of my dying husband for four months. We were married for 32 years. It was in those last four months of his life, while we were both suffering, that we fell more in love with each other.

      June 4, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      these comments are a prime example of how religion hurts people.

      When you get terminal cancer, or ALS, or Alzeimers, or any other terminal illness, please feel free to suffer. Just keep your morality, your religion out of my life and out of my personal decisions,

      June 5, 2011 at 19:10 | Report abuse |
  5. Dr Perry Fisher

    Jack–the drip– apparently wanted to live as evident by his voluntary hospitilisation.The same person actively assisted people in killing themselves.......there is a conflict here

    June 3, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeremy

      Why? I don't see the connection at all. Jack didn't want to die. He wasn't in enough suffering to make the decision to die. If I am reading your intent correctly, you're implying that he didn't want to die, and that somehow invalidates his life's work helping people who DID want to die, do it with dignity. Confused logic, at best. Ignorant of Dr. Kevorkians own views and opinions, at worst.

      June 3, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
    • Pipan

      Great reply, Jeremy.

      June 3, 2011 at 17:58 | Report abuse |
    • Bart Hawkins San Antonio TX

      No, "Dr," Fisher, there is no such conflict.

      A genuine conflict – assuming you are a physician – exists when you are your befuddled ilk prescribe expensive, life-prolonging, treatments to those who neither want them nor would benefit appreciabely from them (i.e. the 90 year old patient sitting next to me at dialysis, who actively HATES being there and has requested – innumerable times – for this charade to end).

      The fact that you and your ilk benefit financially from such treatments (and wouldn't from life-ending procedures) would tend to make me believe your own comments bear more than a hint of internal (and unrevealed) bias.

      Truth or dare, doc!

      Bet you are an oncologist (or worse, a gerentologist) aren't you?

      Bias. Conflict. You betcha.

      June 3, 2011 at 18:08 | Report abuse |
    • rossman

      Bart, relax. "Dr." Fisher is obviously no doctor. Did you notice his spelling of "hospitilisation?" Lmao, of all words that's one that a doctor would surely know how to spell. And by the way, Bart, you need to nix your use of the word "ilk." It's annoying.

      June 3, 2011 at 18:13 | Report abuse |
    • Amom

      Hmmm...he wanted to live because "He said he needed to warn the world about the perils of an overabundant society". When death is the answer to "an overabundant society" look out. No telling who is next on the list but as Dr Perry Fisher points out, it was not Doctor Death himself.

      June 3, 2011 at 20:59 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Kevorkian's victims might not have wanted to die either if they had the same privileges as Kevorkian. Kevorkian had access to excellent health care and plenty of support. The same cannot be said of his victims who were simply disabled people and most of them were not even dying! Hello?!

      June 4, 2011 at 12:03 | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Kate- I've heard that argument before (that he assisted fibromyalgia patients, etc) but what I don't understand is why he was prosecuted for assisting an ALS patient, someone who was almost certainly going to die, and not these chronically ill patients.

      June 5, 2011 at 22:41 | Report abuse |
  6. Patricia

    Those who oppose Dr. K are afraid of death...I can only hope that someone as courageous as Dr. K takes up his cause...

    June 3, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • karen

      Respectfully disagree with your broad statement

      June 4, 2011 at 00:11 | Report abuse |
    • Jan

      Patricia, read Gupta's article. Dr. death was afraid of death. Using your logic then Kevorkian opposed his own philosophy -at least on a personal level. That's what we call hypocrisy.

      June 4, 2011 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
    • ivnprt

      @ Jan: So by your logic Dr. Kevorkian is a true doctor because he never forgot the Hippocratic Oath !

      June 5, 2011 at 02:23 | Report abuse |
  7. Al

    I find it amazing that people who think it is perfectly fine to grant a compassionate and speedy death to pets that are in intractable pain will not afford the same mercy to a suffering human being whose every living moment is a torment. Dr. Kevorkian was true to the Hippocratic oath he swore as a physician; "First do no harm". What great harm we do when we try to elongate lives to the point of reducing them to a painful mockery of the very meaning of the word. Mere existence is not life. The people Dr. Kevorkian helped to leave this world were already dead by all measures except the strictly physiological. And yes, if I find myself in such a situation, I will leave the world on my own terms.

    June 3, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JK

      Please see CD6908 above. And, no, he actually helped kill some people who were still very healthy. One of them was in the very early stages of her illness and could still play piano and participate in sports.
      My sisters denied medical help to my mother because they didn't want to care for any longer, not because she wanted to die. She was dead by the time I found out, and you will see a lot more of that if you allow euthanasia to be legal.

      June 3, 2011 at 17:19 | Report abuse |
    • CB

      JK- it IS legal in Oregon, Washington and Montana. The dire slippery slope, we will be killing grandma. hysterical accusations have just simply not happened. It is a very strict process which people have to go through in order to be prescribed the medications. First and formost, it is the patient's choice, no one elses. Your story of you sister's behavior, while sad, has absolutely nothing to do with Death with Dignity.

      June 3, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
    • Suzanne

      I totally agree with the analogy about putting our pets to sleep. I am currently struggling with the prosect of putting my sweet dog to sleep as he is suffering from advanced heart disease. If I feel that he is in too much pain and struggling to breathe, I will have him euthanized, no matter how hard it is for me. It is an act of love to not force an animal to suffer. And I love that little guy like a child. My mom, currently healthy as a horse, has expressed her wish to die on her own terms when the time comes. If she is of sound mind and asks me to help her find a doctor that can assist, I will, even though it will be painful for me. But no more painful than watching her suffer and not honoring her wishes.

      June 3, 2011 at 18:09 | Report abuse |
    • Sharon

      The disabled people that Kevorkian killed were not a painful mockery of the meaning of life. They were human beings with disabilities. Very few of them were actually dying. Do the research. Shame on such ableist bigotry.

      June 4, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • Shar

      I would like to die on my own terms also. That includes not being killed without my permission as well as not being forced to live without my permission. Kevorkian like many in the medical profession (not all!) equate disability with lesser quality of life, others including Kevorkian equate disability with dying. So you can see the risk that legalized 'mercy' killings present to devalued populations, such as people with disabilities.

      As for your pet, I am sorry to hear about his health condition and I am sure that you will do what you think your pet would want. What I worry about in the case of my darling dog who is aging and has a number of health issues is whether I will have to make a decision to euthanize her simply because I can't afford the medical expenses associated with her treatment. It's my understanding that most pet owners euthanize their pets for economic reasons, not necessarily because the animal is suffering. I think it's bad enough that this is the situation that pets and their owners are finding themselves in, and I certainly wouldn't want to see human beings in the same situation or justify the killing of humans due to economics simply because that's where we are in this country with our pets. Why not work to make health care for pets and people more affordable?

      June 4, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
  8. Clara

    Gupta, who are you and why should anyone care what your opinion is of this man?

    June 3, 2011 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • J.R.

      And just who are you? Yeah, that's right...no one cares.

      June 3, 2011 at 17:59 | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      Clara, stfu. Obviously, YOU care or you wouldn't have read the article AND replied to it. And to answer your question, Dr. Gupta is a neurosurgeon, a professor and CNN's chief medical correspondent. And based on what many people who know him well have said, he's also a great guy.

      June 3, 2011 at 18:03 | Report abuse |
    • Clara

      JR and Pat have been successfully trolled.

      June 3, 2011 at 21:27 | Report abuse |
    • Ooof

      Damn, Clara. You just trolled yourself (as I am now).

      June 3, 2011 at 22:29 | Report abuse |
    • Clara

      Touche.

      June 4, 2011 at 07:57 | Report abuse |
  9. us1776

    Kevorkian was a true champion for death with dignity.

    Perfectly healthy people have a hard time understanding why anyone would want assisted suicide.

    Maybe they should talk to someone who is terminally ill with a devastating illness and no hope of recovery.

    People do not want to be kept alive at all costs. Surgically taken apart piece by piece as illness progresses until they have no human dignity left whatsoever.

    Dr. Kevorkian is a hero. And hopefully someone will follow in his footsteps.

    .

    June 3, 2011 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • karen

      The comments on this thread are very disturbing. It speaks to the culture of Death we live in.

      June 4, 2011 at 00:06 | Report abuse |
    • Lars

      The deaths of Kevorkian's victims were not dignified. They were carried out in his rickety old van. He ignored their final wishes in some cases. In one case, he butchered his victim in a clumsy attempt to remove one of his organs. You really don't know Jack, do you?

      June 4, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      Jack did not assist all his patients in his van. He used the van so as to avoid the relentless pursuit of all the crazy people who want to keep everyone alive no matter what type of horrible situation or pain they may be in.

      And who are we to judge about what this patient wanted?

      A person has a right to determine their own end-stage. And if they reach the point where they feel there is no longer any point in prolonging their agony they should be able to have their doctor assist them in making a humane exit from life. Something that we afford even to our pets.

      .

      June 5, 2011 at 11:06 | Report abuse |
  10. Angel

    There will be no common ground for this issue. However, I will NEVER allow anyone else's opinion, religion, personal beliefs or misguided ideals to dictate how I will live and DIE. Thanks Jack!

    June 3, 2011 at 17:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Arthur

    Dr. Jack had his last interview i would assume at UCLAseveral months back, where the Armenian Student Association invited him to appear. He wowed the sold out theater with his charm and charisma. Rest in Peace Sir.

    June 3, 2011 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cathy

      Charm and charisma are the attributes of many of this world's mass murderers. Don't forget that Adoplh Hitler was hugely popular to the mases.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
  12. Kelly

    Regardless of your opinion on doctor-assisted suicide, no one should question Dr. Kevorkian's sincerity. He truly wanted to help people and his motives were pure.

    June 3, 2011 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • George

      That's utter nonsense. We should all being questioning Kevorkian's motives. He was a butcher and an ablist bigot who singled out disabled people to advance his cause! For shame!

      June 4, 2011 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
  13. will

    To say that Kevorkian was a hero is a disgrace to life. Each adult should spend a day on the pediatric cancer ward to witness the courage, strength, and resolve that the children with cancer demonstrate. They fight for every day alive and make the most of what life has to offer. People embrace Kevorkian because they fear death or because they fear suffering. No question, Kevorkian helped a few people die that had terminal illnesses, but he also MURDERED people who did NOT have any terminal disease. There were simply some people that were cowards and didn't want to suffer so asked Kevorkian to kill them. Those individuals cheapened the value of life that we were given as a gift. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for euthanasia, but let's not think of Kevorkian as being an angel of mercy. He still was a murderer.

    June 3, 2011 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • charles s

      The only thing that we truly have is our life. How or when we choose to die is our only real and valid right. Everything else is left behind and will become someone else possession. Even children who are fighting for their life have the right to decide when the pain is too much and death is their only option. My nephew had leukemia and fought it for years but finally he begged his parents to go home and no more treatment. He died in home amongst his family rather than being held alive while endless medical treatment tortured him. Cancer is a terrible disease and probably the most frightful because it is so hard to cure.

      June 3, 2011 at 21:57 | Report abuse |
    • David

      "There were simply some people that were cowards and didn't want to suffer so asked Kevorkian to kill them. Those individuals cheapened the value of life that we were given as a gift."

      Do you find suffering and abjection a gift, Will? Really? Some gift. And the people that do't want to experience pointless excruciating suffering are COWARDS? Cowardice involves being afraid to do something you actually feel you SHOULD do because it's the right thing - but maybe life is more awful than good, and maybe the excruciating suffering just puts it over the top for certain people. Not everyone enjoys "The Gift" of life as you do. If I told you you were a coward for not sticking a hot poker in your eye, what would you do? Stick it in your eye? You're just a bully who wants everyone to feel as you do, who has no empathy for people who aren't living the way YOU live, and you want to impose YOUR standards for how YOU would do things as if you were god. But, dude, you ain't god.

      August 10, 2013 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
  14. Hold Your head High

    Dr. Jack has always had my utmost faith. For those of you never close to death, let me just say, that You Have No Vote here. I have had a surgeon tell me on a Friday that I did not have Monday. Period. I submitted to the surgery at his will. I owe that doctor my life. If I were beyond rescue, I would DEMAND that doctor Jack be my last doctor. Bless him and those he helped. I can only hope he has done enough to help us those left behind his courageous acts.

    June 3, 2011 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KimJ

      That's complete arrogance to think that others on this blog have not been, or are not, close to death. There are plenty of ways to have the last say in how you end your life. Kevorkian however did not allow all of his victims to have the last say though. What makes you think he would have treated you special?

      June 4, 2011 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
    • JamesT

      Dr. Death did a great deal to expose the inhumane real agenda of most right to die groups. For that I could almost be grateful , except that he did it at the expense of disabled people who were not terminally ill but were abandoned by society and felt that they had no other choice.

      June 4, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
  15. The Tuckinator

    rossman- Dr. K was an incredibly brave genius who should be right up there with Mother Teresa.

    I CAN'T BELIEVE that your sole contribution to this discussion is to get snooty about someone's spelling and choice of words!!!!!!!!!!

    FYI- 'hospitalisation' IS THE CORRECT SPELLING for the English speaking world outside the United States!!!

    Irony, anyone?!

    June 3, 2011 at 19:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mdblanche

      Indeed it is, but "Dr. Perry Fisher" spelled it "hospitilisation" which is not the correct spelling anywhere.

      June 3, 2011 at 22:22 | Report abuse |
    • Breanna

      Please! Mother Teresa helped vilnerable people, including disabled people, to live!

      June 4, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
    • Chris in Toledo, OH

      His comment about "hospitilisation" irritated me too. People of his "ilk" cannot see outside of their own world. ;)

      June 5, 2011 at 04:21 | Report abuse |
    • Chris in Toledo, OH

      Here you go blanch: http://www.tysto.com/articles05/q1/20050324uk-us.shtml

      June 5, 2011 at 04:26 | Report abuse |
  16. Plato101

    Kevorkian was not motivated by compassion, he had a life long fetish involving death. As an artist, he sometimes painted with his own blood, and had created pictures such as one of a child eating the flesh off a decomposing corpse. As an intern, he conducted "experiments" involving the photographing of the eyes of patients right at the moment of their death, though what scientific value such "research" had remains a mystery. He worked on research to transfuse blood from cadavers to live patients. The guy was a total freak!

    June 3, 2011 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amaya

      Right you are Plato101. Too many people want to ignore the facts about Dr. Death.

      June 4, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
  17. MarcusB

    There are so many trolls, religious zealots wanting to control the world, and militaristic athiests on these CNN comment pages, it makes you sick. All the more reason for separation of church and state.

    Jack Kevorian was a pathologist, not a clinician. One of the commenters above says he/she knew him and worked w/ him, and his "compassion" motives should be questioned. Maybe that's true , but he sure started a great discussion about how our society treats death, even if a lot of it turned into sensationalism by the media.

    I haven't seen any real doctors post here yet. I'm an MD so I have some inside info. And I live in Oregon.

    Let's address how medicine is "in it for the money" and "keeping people alive to make more money" as some posters referenced above: For the most part, that is a lie. First, doctors (and other health care providers) are trained to "fix" people. We aren't God (though some specialists have a well-deserved reputation of acting like God), but our goal is to make people feel better. Primary care doc's often lose money when they see patients on Medicare, and they are paying to see Medicaid patient's. Physicians incomes have dropped for decades w/ respect to inflation. Our society demands that people be kept alive as long as possible by whatever means. It is often the family that doesn't want to let go of their loved one. I have seen countless times that a doctor or medical team thinks it's time to "pull the plug" and other treatments are futile, but the family or patient wants to fight it until last gasping breath, excruciating painful spasm, vomiting fecal material, uncontrollable retching, etc. Americans are ready to sue at the drop of a hat. So, as an example, when you come to the ER for non-life threatening car accident, what used to be treated as just observation is now multiple blood tests, CT scan of the head/C-spine/chest/abdomen/pelvis, and multiple regular x-rays, because the doc is trying to cover his a**. Doctors aren't trying to bilk you; it's what we are taught early so as to stay away from lawyers. Yes, of course the hospital makes money on doing lab work and imaging, but hospital profit margins are very slim. At least in our semi-rural hospital. Do you honestly think that the guy ordering your tests is thinking, "Just one more scan before this guys kicks it...."? (Well, maybe if they own the outpatient imaging center they are sending you to - which is illegal - gotta watch for those jerks.) In fact as a radiologist, I question many of the scans that I do all day, and I'm oftentimes calling the ordering doc.

    Yes, oncologists are trained to do whatever they can to keep cancer patient's alive. It's ingrained in them. Drives me crazy. Sometimes, instead of thinking of quality of life, they do want to get more chemotherapy sessions in. But this is your own choice! You can say no! I'm oftentimes asked to biopsy a nodule when the patient has a known metastatic cancer, but they want to make sure it is a metastasis from original cancer.

    We don't need special laws to allow us to provide compassionate care. Do you think the gov't audits that I gave a few extra mg's of a narcotic to make someone feel better in their last few hours? No. If only you knew how easy and common it is in hospitals across the nation to those who want it. Yes, if the morphine gave the patient so much respiratory depression that he died just because of the morphine, then there are repercussions legally for us if it wasn't done by the new law. On the other hand, I haven't sees a huge rush of physician assisted suicides in Oregon. Please remember, you don't have to accept any medical care. And it isn't difficult to sign a Living Will or assign Power of Attorney to someone you trust will follow your wishes when the time has come.

    Yes, I will be flamed by the religious zealots and athiests here, but here goes: I am a Christian physician. (This weekend I will be leading out in song service at church, and helping w/ my 2 and 3 y/o's classes.) I try to treat my patient's w/ the utmost compassion, as I would want to be treated. I don't try to proselytize to a dying patient, but I try to lead by example (not perfect by any means) to my techs and coworkers. After watching my grandfather die an agonizing death by bowel obstruction due to colon cancer, I can easily understand the need for strong pain management and a patient's "right" to choose what they want to do with their life. It is not the duty of the/a church or anyone else to decide someone's personal fate or health care decision. Jesus was the ultimate in compassion, and if you believe in God, remember that He gave us free will.

    June 3, 2011 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Erin

      Well said!!...I wish I had a doctor like you...I have never found a doctor that understands when someone is in pain...I live with it 24/7 and now if I go to a doctor, they automatically think Im addicted to pain pills...So sad...No one should ever have to live in pain

      June 4, 2011 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
  18. NB

    I didn't like Kevorkian but I agreed 100% with his message. When people are suffering terribly, they should be allowed to die with dignity in a time and manner of their own choosing. My mother spent the last 7 years of her life with a neuromuscular disease. She suffered a total physical collapse followed by a total mental collapse from the stress of it all. She spent the last few years of her life living in constant fear, anxiety and terror. She wanted to die so badly but was too weak to do it on her own. No one in the family had the courage to help her commit suicide even though she begged us to help her die. After 7 years of misery, she finally found a way to end it by not eating and starving herself to death. No human being should be forced to experience what my mother went through when there is a quick and painless alternative.

    June 3, 2011 at 22:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Eatenhogg

    As a Republican, this guy is my hero. There are so many people off of the government payroll as a result of his work. The last thing this country needs is dying people milking the system.

    June 3, 2011 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Todd

      Now that's funny.

      June 4, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse |
    • Chris in Toledo, OH

      I really hope that is said in jest...

      June 5, 2011 at 04:32 | Report abuse |
  20. Edward

    Kevorkian realized, I think, that the prolonging of life in terminal cases is often a result of family imploring doctors to do all they can to buy another week, another day, another hour, so they can avoid as long as possible the inevitable. It's they, the living, who can not let go. The dying person is made to suffer – regardless how much pain medication is given – for the self-interest of those who can't yet say goodbye.

    June 3, 2011 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Evangeline

    Dr Kevorkian was a self-righteous arrogant man. Any time I heard him talk I was appalled at his outlook on life. I find it interesting that he was afraid of death, yet so willing to help others to their death.
    He did not honour his Hippocratic oath at all. He was a disgrace as a doctor and as a human being.

    June 4, 2011 at 00:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mike

    It appears selfish to post your thoughts on dying if you are in fact not doing so. This is something most of us should not comment on as a social doctrine until we are in the depths of pain and prepared to continue or let go. Why should this personal judgement be left to the state? The state does not feel your pain, and should be excluded from judgement. This can not be about "god" or family, but the human experience and that alone. Dr. Kevorkian was a piece of progressive thought that America is simply not ready to close their bibles for. To the Mothers of Invention!

    June 4, 2011 at 00:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Jeffrey

    The medical crisis in the United States would end if the majority of terminally ill patients were allowed to pull the plug. Billions are wasted keeping people doped up for the last several months of their lives because society has brained wash us in believing we will go to hell if we die with dignity and die on our terms.

    June 4, 2011 at 04:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. TERRY

    God decides when we live or die. Not man.

    June 4, 2011 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Le duh

      "God decides when we live or die. Not man."

      o rly?

      Don't doctors frequently decide whether we live or die? Pretty sure the pneumonia I had a few years ago would have killed me if it weren't for the doctors analyzing me and subsequently supplying me with antibiotics. Kevorkian discussed this in one of his television interviews, u n00b

      June 4, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
  25. Luke

    Is it possible that he shouldn't have KILLED so many people? He is answering to this now.

    June 4, 2011 at 08:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Chris

    Stop picking on those who have religious values; we all have a moral compass to base our decisions upon! Whether our views are athiestic or not! We are not robots cut into a mold conformed into your own likeness! That is discrimination and it is sickening! Don't we all have the right to voice our opinions instead of slamming the door on each other's hands! Each one's views should be respected whichever viewpoint it comes from and is the basis for our democracy! Don't ever forget it! Or do you prefer a socialistic society?

    June 4, 2011 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. minder

    Gupta, Kevorkian was a true humanist, you are an opportunist.

    June 4, 2011 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Countryboy

    Judgement day the most important day! http://WWW.CDBABY.COM/ALL/NUMONE bye now!

    June 4, 2011 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. daniel

    People keep making it about the person. It has nothing to do with him. Was what he did ethical or not? It has nothing to do with him. He just acted.

    Its a complex issue. Compounded because the choice cannot be reversed.

    The simple answer is we shouldn't be telling anyonw what they should do (this included). However this could be open to abuse by people "euthanizing" people who don't want to be. This should be able to be handled with a will or some mediation I would think.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Tim

    He had to know the end was near. Would have respected him more if he had performed a lethal injection on himself.

    June 4, 2011 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeffrey

      I have to disagree, he was recovering from a routine illness but threw a blood clot which are totally unpredictable.

      June 4, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Nothing is routine at age 83. I know there are some situations where I would push the plunger on myself. Saw my Dad suffer through cancer and the last three months was especially bad. If I find myself in that situation I do see the last 90 days.

      June 4, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      "Do not see made an error

      June 4, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
  31. Kay Nelson

    Good stuff

    June 4, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. scribble

    If and when I'm in a position that I can't live productively, in a manner that I desire, then I want the ability to decide whether I live or die. I alone should make the decision and choose assistance if unable to myself. I've spent most of my life in considerable pain. If at some time my meds no longer work or were unavailable, I can assure you, I wouldn't want to live. I've fought it too many exhausting, lonely years. Luckily, now I have HOPE and I do thrive. However, what if there were no meds and no hope of relief? How do you really live without hope? No one should tell anyone else how to live their life or their death. I don't want to die but I understand how sometimes life can be a worse fate. I hope laws and views change so that no one is punished any longer for making their own choices in this matter. RIP Dr. Kevorkian

    June 4, 2011 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. JULIE

    we should the right to die with dignity who is the gov to decide that we should say that not a bunch of bums who can't pay down the debt this country owes. people are dying let them go with peace and dignity. Maybe when the people who made kevorkian stop get ill we should let them suffer and see how it feels. doesn't feel good does it. now you know how we feel. stop telling us what to do and get a life. let us die with dignity and stop the pain.

    June 4, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. JULIE

    we are an insane nation to not let a person who is dying from als or cancer die quietly with dignity that is insane its a resting place free from pain. all those meds that come out are garbage the side effects not worth it. The cures there is no cure and your going to let people hurt that is insane and cruelty to people. shame on the people who made him stop. your sad people!

    June 4, 2011 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aaron

      what? the governments in Iraq to hunt Kevorkian for oil? huh?

      June 4, 2011 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
  35. aaron

    I am not opposed to euthanasia, however, I believe Kevorkian was a murderer who hid his sick passion by disguising it as mercy killings. Watch the guys interviews it better yet look at his artwork. Its sad this sicko will be remembered as a face of comfort for those suffering.

    June 4, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. TJeff1776

    Its unfortunate that many radical and il-advised conservatives don't observe this life in its realistic form. SO LONG Doctor Jack. You made a lasting impression- not on the stupid, but on the caring and compassionate- people that really counted.
    You laid the foundation that is already bearing fruit. Most of us are proud of your sacrifices. Too bad it was so necessary

    June 4, 2011 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aaron

      Its a individual decision to end suffering, however this guy was not interested in helping others find a peaceful end, but designing a killing machine he could use to murder without consequence. It is a shame some trusted him. May the euthanasia move forward without this monster.

      June 4, 2011 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
  37. wadesville

    Rest in peace, Dr. Kevorkian. My father would have went to you, if he could, to help end his suffering. Right or wrong, it would have been HIS choice to make, not mine. Hospitals perform their own version of assisted suicide every day. Thank the Lord my father had a doctor that allowed him unlimited (as much as the machine would administer) pain meds for his end days. I will forever be in his debt, for allowing him to be in control.

    June 4, 2011 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. wadesville

    p.s. Courts all over the USA decide whether or not a person should live or die. Yet, they take away the right of an individual to make that decision for himself. Amazing...

    June 4, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aaron

      Ps-not amazing. although i believe euthanasia is a personal decision...although a week minded one....capital punishment is not up for debate as far as being a just ends to life.

      June 4, 2011 at 20:42 | Report abuse |
    • Davion

      This piece was a lfeicjaket that saved me from drowning.

      January 31, 2012 at 22:27 | Report abuse |
    • ghwfemx

      nOAsNR cfoaeozpryju

      February 1, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
    • nivhlhzdz

      Hm39hf pykhyykufgxb

      February 4, 2012 at 03:55 | Report abuse |
  39. Kats

    I have always admired Dr. Kervorkian. He wasn't deranged, he was a brilliant man, with one purpose to allow the suffering of people with terminal or dibilating diseases die with "Dignity". That Dignitiy is what is so important to those that know they don't want to suffer, and watch themselves diminish. They want to end their life their way, for themselves, isn't that what's most important. Who are all these other people who don't live in their shoes, dare to object. Dr. Kervorkian understood, and he got castrated and sent to prison for it. The judge and the juros who passes sentence on him are the "IDIOTS". This is not you life, but that of the one's that no longer want to live this way. Just this morning as the word on President Obamas health care was made known, many people will not be able to afford healthcare, and if you do have it, the hospitals will have the power to deny treating you, or even allowing you stay. How cruel is that, its far worse than what Dr. Kervorkian was doing. He knew it would come to this, and slowly but surely now that he has passed on, May He Rest In Peace, his predictions are coming true. I believe a person should be remembered for who they were, not to see them deteriorate, and suffer while other's looked on, while the care homes, and the nursing staff, set them off to corner to die alone, and a painful death. Bed sores, that become infected a painful way to lie there. The stories can go on and on, life was meant to live it to the fullest and when there is no more fulfillment, it's time to let go, as the person see's fit. I will always remember Dr. Kervorkian as a humanitrian, with empathy and compassion. He died alone, may his last moments be that of beautiful dreams surrounded spiritually by only positive forceses. I Thank You Dr. Kervorkian, may there be many like you to help us when the time approaches. No, may the laws pass to keep your memory alive.

    June 4, 2011 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aaron

      nothing wrong with euthanasia but Kevorkian was a psychopath. have you ever seen is painting of a man serving a human head with am apple in its mouth? Kevorkian was not about dying with dignity. he found selfish pleasure in death.

      June 4, 2011 at 19:53 | Report abuse |
  40. MJB

    I've was in the medical field for 40 yrs and seen it all. So many people asking to be let go and so sad you cannot do anything about it to help them through it. I know for sure if i was in many situations as the people I've dealt with, I would like to have someone like Kervokian around. Maybe someday !!

    June 4, 2011 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. J. L. Lee

    All this controversy is generated by the christian twisted religious ethic that you can have no control over your life, (that's God's job???). Far to many of these 'My way or the highway' religious nitwits are now attempting to turn America into a Theocracy. If you want religion, I have no problem with it, but keep this controlling medieval religion driven crap away from me and stop attempting to be spokesman for your God. It's amazing how some of these whiners 'change their tune' when it's happening to them. TOTAL HYPOCRISY!

    The state needs to keep out of this patient doctor decision process. If you ever tried to stop me if it were necessary , I may decide to take you with me!

    June 5, 2011 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Andrew

    First, Jack Kevorkian rest in peace.
    Second, the debate about euthanasia rages on this country and people are always debating about ending a life unnaturally. I have lived with this issue my entire life. My grandfather was a member of the Dutch Supreme Court and one of the recognized experts in that country on the topic. When confronted with the statement that lives were being ended unnaturally he – like many lawyers – always asked the following questions: In this modern day and age, can you think of one time that you received treatment for something or took medicine that saved your life? Did you ever take penicillin? Did you ever have a booster shot or other type of injection to prevent disease? Would it then not be fair to say that we are all leading unnatural lives at some point and is it not our prerogative to end that unnatural life?

    I do hope that we can learn to live and let live in this country . . . Permitting euthanasia would be a great place to start . . . What is more basic than life and death?

    June 5, 2011 at 07:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. bonkin

    Rest in peace. Kevorkian was way ahead of America, but that isn't unusual in this barbaric backwards uneducated dumb down society. This is perfectly legal in Switzerland and has been for years. I could put my cat to sleep with dignity to end her suffering but had to watch my mother writhe in agony and waste away with no remaining shred of dignity. Thank you America!

    June 5, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Jez

    Not a fan of Gupta, but this article was intelligently written. Too many "religious" zealots are trying to pave their way to "heaven" by forcing those who are in pain, and who would normally die, into artificially extended lives. Incredibly selfish of the "religious". Those in pain should be able to chose death.

    June 5, 2011 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeremy

      Jez, why does anyone care that you are or are not a fan? When you write stuff like that, you come off as a pretentious want-to-be. "oh, look, pay attention to Jez, he has proclaimed an intelligent article, despite not being a fan." Do everyone a favor and stick to the topic.

      June 5, 2011 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
  45. Jeremy

    Yes, it is hilarious. Move on you troll pot head.

    June 5, 2011 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Kris Oakes

    EquilifeMD or http://www.equilifemd.com has really helped me personally with this using Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy.

    July 27, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Samuel Getaneh Bogale Calgary Alberta

    Tough issues with extreme views on both sides of the debate!

    January 19, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. pistupistue

    wymiana opon białołęka

    państw, jakiego odwa yły się poczęstować procedura niniejszego typu. Mo na bezodstrzału" technologie czy też substytuty zu ywane w przebiegachintuicyjny możliwość kursu strukturze projektu bezpieczeństwapodczas gdy wole strategiczne bawimy w oparciu reputację niewspólną.lakiernictwo nieseryjnego. Zredukowanie wielkości oraz cechy emisji i

    July 4, 2012 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Bob Funk

    Dear Dr.Sanjay
    Ive really enjoyed seeing you on CNN.over the last 10plus years–however today I saw you between two Drs..pro/con abortion.You brought up the topic of new laws prohibiting abortion after 22 weeks.You seemed-maybe Im wrong–to side with the lady Dr.who obviously was pro.You brought up that topic of genetic defect as a reason for terminating a fetal life.You cringed with a Dr.Kevorkian passing and did a book on Cheating Death–I wonder will you get off the fence for lives that cant speak for themselves?Do you recall that we took an oath to save lives at graduation?May God help you see a crying life without a voice.Thanks.

    August 10, 2013 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.