JACK KEVORKIAN, the former Michigan pathologist who fought a decade-long crusade to legalize euthanasia by helping more than 130 patients commit suicide, was finally convicted in 1999 for his role in the death of Thomas Youk, who was in the latter stages of Lou Gehrig's disease.
Now 77, and six years into a 10- to 25-year sentence at Michigan's Lakeland Correctional Facility for second-degree murder, Kevorkian is suffering from a variety of ailments including hepatitis C, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, according to his lawyer, Mayer Morganroth.
Told by his doctor that he may not survive another year in prison, Kevorkian has filed a request for a pardon or a commutation of his sentence, the attorney said.
On Wednesday, Kevorkian answered several questions for Current through Morganroth, who spoke to him on the phone. Kevorkian answered only a few, brief questions because he was having difficulty speaking, having choked earlier in the day on a pill. The lawyer said Kevorkian's health has taken a turn for the worse and that he is "gravely ill."
How are your spirits? Do you get depressed?
My spirits are fair. Yes, I do get depressed.
What do you do in prison most days?
Mostly I lie around, and I lack the energy to read and write as I used to do.
Why should you be released now, before your term is up?
So I can live the rest of my days in freedom with family and friends. So I can be treated for my illnesses.
Do you have any regrets about what you did?
Yes, I should've worked for a change in the law instead.
You've said recently that if you are released, you will no longer break the law. Does that mean that you've changed your views about assisted suicide?
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.
What made you change your mind about violating the law?
I changed my mind about the method because the laws are changing in many areas of the world and in the United States, and it is time for legalization to be done in a legal way.
So is it possible to fight the state and the law when the law is wrong?
It is possible to fight the state when the law is wrong. It has been done many times in the past -- such as segregation, taxation without representation by the English, which caused the American Revolution. However, it is counterproductive in this situation. The law is changing throughout the world, and support for that change is escalating.
Does the approach of death change your feelings about death?
No, it does not change my feelings about death.
-- NICHOLAS GOLDBERG