The Supreme Court opened the way Monday for Michigan to prosecute Dr. Jack Kevorkian for aiding the suicides of terminally ill patients, turning down his argument that there is a constitutional right to assisted suicide.
Kevorkian was charged with murder in the deaths of two people and assisted suicide in three other cases. The retired pathologist has aided or witnessed 21 suicides since 1990.
The high court made no comment in rejecting Kevorkian’s appeal of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that the Constitution creates no right to assisted suicide.
The justices turned down a separate challenge to Michigan’s ban on assisted suicide, a suit filed by two terminally ill cancer patients and two medical professionals.
Although Monday’s actions were not rulings on the merits of the Michigan ban, they were a setback for those who support legalizing assisted suicide.
“It’s our position no one has to give us permission to control our own bodies,” said Kevorkian’s attorney, Geoffrey Fieger.
Lawrence Bunting, an assistant prosecutor in Oakland County, said Kevorkian would be prosecuted on the pending charges. “We’ll proceed and do our duty,” he said. “We always have to follow the law in this country.”
Kevorkian refers to assisted suicides as “medicides.” He began providing carbon monoxide poisoning to patients after a court barred the use of a device he invented that intravenously administered lethal doses of drugs.
Kevorkian was charged with murder in the deaths of Marjorie Wantz and Sherry Miller in 1991, and with assisting the 1993 suicides of Donald O’Keefe, Merian Frederick and Ali Khalili.
Michigan lawmakers enacted a ban on assisted suicides that took effect in February 1993.