by Steven Ertelt
February 2, 2007
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — Much of the country may have forgotten about assisted suicide crusader Jack Kevorkian, but Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm insists she hasn’t forgotten about him. Granholm’s office said Thursday she is still weighing a request from Kevorkian’s lawyer to release him from prison before his scheduled parole in June.
Kevorkian is 78 and reportedly suffers from a number of health ailments, including diabetes, hepatitis C, vertigo, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries.
The Michigan Parole Board announced in December that Kevorkian will be paroled.
However, Kevorkian attorney Mayer Morganroth wants him to be released before that and asked Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm Friday for permission for Kevorkian to be released sooner.
He told the Associated Press that Granholm needs to decide soon or she may be faced with waiting on an early release decision on a prison who may die while he’s incarcerated.
"They’ll have plenty of egg on their face, God forbid, should anything happen to him before that," Morganroth said. "He’s not a well man."
Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd told the Detroit Free Press that she is still reviewing the case and noted that she has granted few commutations or pardons during her term in office.
As she has done with other requests from Morganroth, she turned over the request to the Michigan Parole Board for its recommendation. The board has denied previous requests.
Meanwhile, pro-life and disability rights groups have objected to the parole of someone who says he has killed 130 patients via assisted suicide.
Saying assisted suicide "represents an affront to the dignity of the human person, a crime against life and an attack on humanity," Sister Monica Kostielney, president of the Michigan Catholic Conference, told AP "justice was not served in this circumstance."
"The parole board has instead scheduled for release an individual who perpetrated the crime of murder over 130 times," she said.
Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group based in Illinois, said it was disappointed by the decision. The group said it finds as dubious Morganroth’s claims that Kevorkian is suffering from medical problems that put him "near death."
"We were suspicious his health problems were greatly exaggerated when his lawyer filed appeals for four years in a row claiming Kevorkian was essentially on the brink of death," the group said.
Morganroth told AP he denies using exaggerated medical claims to get Kevorkian out early but has said in legal papers since 2003 that the retired pathologist has less than a year to live.
Kevorkian has been jailed in the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, about 100 miles southwest of Detroit. During that time he has battled numerous health concerns.
Kevorkian was sent to prison in 1999 after showing a videotape on national television of him euthanizing Thomas Youk, who was in the latter stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Kevorkian was supposed to serve 10 to 25 years, according to his sentence but was eligible for parole this year.
Morganroth said Kevorkian plans to live with friends in the Detroit area.
Kevorkian said in a recent interview he has second thoughts about the people he claimed to have killed through assisted suicide. He now says he should have lobbied to legalized the practice instead.
Kevorkian told the Los Angeles Times in an interview he should have "worked for a change in the law instead" of using assisted suicide to kill patients.
In a previous interview with MSNBC, Kevorkian said he would not break the law but would lobby to legalize assisted suicide throughout the country.
"I have not changed my views on assisted suicide, but I believe it should be performed legally, and I would do whatever my health permits regarding petitions, speeches, lobbying and writing in support of legalization," he told the Times.
Kevorkian said his spirits are in "fair" condition and that he suffers from depression. He indicated he no longer has the strength to read and write and spends most of his time on his prison bed.
Michigan authors and Kevorkian friends Neal Nicol and Harry Wylie say they have been helping Kevorkian to prepare a 300-page manuscript, tentatively titled "The Life of Dr. Death." Kevorkian has been shopping it around to publishers.
Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple and producer Steve Jones plan to begin filming a movie version in Michigan later this year.
Jones says Oscar winner Ben Kingsley would head the short list of people he would like to play the imprisoned coroner. Kingsley is a three time Oscar nominee who won the award for best actor in 1982 for his role in the film Gandhi.