PONTIAC, Michigan, Mar 29 (  On Friday, after 2 days of deliberation, the jury in the murder trial of Jack Kevorkian found him guilty of second degree murder and delivery of a controlled substance in his televised lethal injection of Thomas Youk. Kevorkian is appealing the ruling. The murder charge normally carries a minimum sentence of 10-25 years and the other charge up to seven years, but Kevorkian’s lawyer David Gorosh, said he would ask the judge forego a prison term. Sentencing is scheduled for April 14.  Strangely, the jury cleared Dr. Death on charges of first degree murder in favour of a second degree murder charge even though to do so meant deciding that Kevorkian’s intention to kill Youk was a sudden impulse rather than a planned action orchestrated for the video camera. In another bizarre twist, Judge Cooper decided, despite Kevorkian’s record of flouting the courts decisions and having killed while on bail, to allow Kevorkian free bail pending the April 14th sentencing date, based on a promise that he would not assist in suicides or euthanize people.

The National Right to Life Committee in the US commented that the “conviction of Jack Kevorkian should come as a relief to people with disabilities.” “The danger is great,” said NRLC, “that any so-called ‘right to die’ would quickly become a ‘duty’ to die.’” NRLC points out that even the proponents of death acknowledge this.

Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society, America’s leading pro-euthanasia group, has suggested in a book published late last year that there may be “a duty to die ‘responsibility within the family unit’ that should remain voluntary but expected nonetheless . . . Persons with chronic conditions account for a disproportionately large share of health care use,  both services and supplies.” Humphry wrote that, “economics, not the quest for broadened individual liberties or increased autonomy, will drive assisted suicide to the plateau of acceptable practice.”

On December 3,1997, Faye Girsh, Executive Director of Hemlock USA, said that even in cases where a person is incapable of making decisions and has never asked to be killed, “A judicial determination should be made when it is necessary to hasten the death of an individual whether it be a demented parent, a suffering, severely disabled spouse or a child.” Girsh later said that position was not “endorsed by the Hemlock Society USA” and “was mentioned as one suggestion about the question of ending suffering,” but noted that it was developed by Professor Eike Kluge and proposed by the Right to Die Network of Canada.

For more on Kevorkian see The Kevorkian Papers.

With files from Pro-Life Info-Net