The Constitutional basis for physician-assisted suicide can be found in the 9th Amendment, Dr. Jack Kevorkian said in a lecture sponsored by the Harvard Law Forum on October 6.
Known as “Doctor Death” for his controversial work championing legal euthanasia for terminally ill patients, Kevorkian was convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder after giving up his counsel to help defend him in court. He was released from prison in 2007, after serving an eight year sentence.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” Kevorkian said, of his pursuit of assisted suicide. “And, if you are willing to accept the consequences like…Thoreau and Mandela were willing to, then you make some progress.”
In a book, “Amendment IX: Our Cornucopia of Rights.” Kevorkian argues that the 9th Amendment means, “You’re free to say and do anything as long as you don’t make yourself a nuisance to anyone else.”
Kevorkian blamed the Supreme Court for lacking courage to take stands on controversial issues such as physician-assisted suicide. He also assailed the medical profession for not adopting a code of ethics that allows suicide, saying physician-assisted suicide ought to be a medical service that is administered by professionals.
The discussion was moderated by Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, who praised Kevorkian for his “intellect, passion, and courage.”
Watch a webcast of the lecture.