Kevorkian helped states pass assisted-suicide laws



SALEM, Ore. (AP) — For Oregon and Washington advocates pressing for a physician-assisted suicide law in the 1990s, the attention-seeking behavior of Dr. Jack Kevorkian provided a model for many doctors and activists — of what not to do.

The Michigan-born pathologist, who died Friday, helped people end their lives with a carbon-monoxide suicide machine built from spare parts.

He became a public figure in 1990 when he used his machine to inject lethal drugs into an Alzheimer’s patient. He continued with his unorthodox methods throughout the decade.

“Jack Kevorkian raised the profile of the issue fairly quickly with his antics in Michigan,” said Portland attorney Eli Stutsman, who was the lead drafter of assisted suicide laws in Oregon and Washington. “But he also put a very bad face on the issue.”