By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

FLORIDA, January 15, 2008 ( – Jack Kevorkian, the death-obsessed physician who claims he has killed or assisted the suicides of more than 130 people, is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida today, despite thousands of protest emails that have been sent to the school.

This speech will be the second given by Kevorkian since he was released from prison on June 1 of last year, after serving eight years in prison for the murder of Thomas Youk, to whom he administered a lethal injection in 1998 because Youk, who had Lou Gehrig’s disease, was too weak to commit suicide.  Kevorkian videotaped the murder, and allowed it to be shown on CBS’s popular news program 60 Minutes, daring government authorities to prosecute him.

Kevorkian was released from his 10-25 year sentence for second-degree murder on parole, partly because doctors say that he has little time to live.  He suffers from Hepatitis C, which he contracted during his hospital work decades earlier.

Although he is unrepentant, Kevorkian says he will not engage in further euthanasia, but will instead work to have the law changed.  His University of Florida speech is one stop in that campaign. 

Kevorkian’s first speech was given in November at Wayne State University to about 200 people, as a test to see the public’s reaction.  The speech at the University of Florida will be held in the university’s basketball arena, which has a seating capacity of up to 5,000 people.

The University of Florida has beefed up security before the event, mindful about recent incidents at other speeches involving protesting students.  In one incident that has become infamous, a student who was perceived as disruptive at a John Kerry appearance was tasered by police. 

The campus Pro-Life Alliance reportedly plans a protest outside of the basketball court where the speech will be held.  Mark LaBelle, chairman of activism for the group, told the St. Petersburg Times that the group would not be disruptive. 

LaBelle said that the tasered student, Andrew Meyer, had gone “too far” and added that “Our purpose for protesting is not to make any one feel threatened or to cause a scene.”

Kevorkian, a physician who has shown an obsession with death throughout his career, began assisting suicides in 1990 in an attempt to find live patients for his studies on the physiology of death. 

In previous decades, Kevorkian had done experiments on dying cancer patients, forcing their eyes open and taking photographs as they expired.  He also sought death row inmates who would allow themselves to be studied as they were executed, which prompted his dismissal from his hospital residency in 1958.

Although Kevorkian has always portrayed himself to the media as a crusader for the rights of terminally ill patients, many of those who Kevorkian euthanized or helped to commit suicide were not in danger of death.  One woman, 34-year-old Karen Shofstall, was merely depressed due to her Multiple Sclerosis. 

See related coverage:

Kevorkian Plan to Speak in Florida May be Too Soon for Parole Board

Doctor “Death” Kevorkian to Speak at Florida University for $50,000 Speaking Fee

Kevorkian Vows to Push for Assisted Suicide Laws After Upcoming Prison Release