DETROIT — Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan pathologist who put assisted suicide on the world’s medical ethics stage, died early Friday, according to a spokesman with Beaumont Hospital. He was 83.
The assisted-suicide advocate had been hospitalized in Michigan for pneumonia and a kidney-related ailment, his attorney Mayer Morganroth has said.
The music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Kevorkian’s favorite musician, was put on the intercom so he could hear the music as he was dying, Morganroth said.
The 83-year-old former pathologist had struggled with kidney problems for years and had checked into a hospital earlier this month for similar problems, his lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, told CNN last month. He checked back into Beaumont Hospital in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak on May 18 after suffering a relapse, Morganroth said.
Kevorkian, dubbed “Dr. Death,” made national headlines as a supporter of physician-assisted suicide and “right-to-die” legislation. He was charged with murder numerous times through the 1990s for helping terminally ill patients take their own lives.
He was convicted on second-degree murder charges in 1999 stemming from the death of a patient who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was paroled in 2007.
After his release, he said he would not help end any more lives.
Experts credit Kevorkian, who insisted that people had the right to have a medical professional help them die, with publicizing physician-assisted suicide. Even so, few states made it legal. Laws went into effect in Oregon in 1997 and Washington state in 2009, and a 2009 Montana Supreme Court ruling effectively legalized the practice in that state.
“Somebody has to do something for suffering humanity,” Kevorkian once said. “I put myself in my patients’ place. This is something I would want.”
In the end, however, he was too weak to take advantage of the option he offered others, said Geoffrey Fieger, Kevorkian’s former attorney.
Kevorkian had said that he had three missions in life.
One of his missions was to warn mankind of “impending doom” that will come from the culture of overabundance.
“I’m not going to be too popular for that one,” he said.
His second mission was to educate people about assisted suicide, and his belief that in states where assisted suicide has been legalized, it is not being done right. He believed that people shouldn’t have to be terminal in order to qualify for help in ending their own lives.
Kevorkian’s third stated mission was to convince Americans that their rights are being infringed upon by bans on everything from smoking to assisted suicide.

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