'Dr. Death' Kevorkian to Run for Congress

Wednesday, 12 Mar 2008 02:08 PM

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Assisted-suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian, whose controversial tactics earned him the nickname Doctor Death, plans to run for the US Congress.

"We need some honesty and sincerity instead of corrupt government in Washington," Kevorkian said when announcing his bid to his hometown newspaper in Michigan, the Oakland Press, in an article published Wednesday.

Kevorkian, who spent more than eight years in jail for the murder of a man whose videotaped assisted suicide was aired on national television, claims he actively helped 130 people die.

He vowed to continue to lobby for the legalization of assisted suicide when he was released from jail last June but said he has no desire to go back to jail.

He told the Oakland Press that he will run as an independent in the 9th Congressional district.

The frail 79-year-old former pathologist will have to watch his words: the terms of his two-year probation prevent Kevorkian from counseling people on how to commit suicide and his parole officer will be monitoring his public speeches.

Kevorkian forced the United States to confront the ethical issues surrounding how best to treat the pain and suffering of the terminally ill when he went public with his suicide machines in 1990 and the videos of his patients begging him to help them die.

Kevorkian's campaign to legalize physician assisted suicide has had limited success. While his native Michigan rejected a proposal shortly before he went to trial, the state of Oregon passed the Death With Dignity Act in 1997.

Nearly 300 Oregon patients have since died from taking a lethal dose of medications prescribed by their physicians, state records showed.

While initiatives in several other states have failed, there is strong public support for the right to die.

A 2006 Pew Research Center report found that 84 percent of Americans believe patients should have the right to refuse life-saving medical treatment, although the public is evenly split at 45 to 46 percent over whether physicians should be able to help patients to end their lives.

© 2008 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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