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Not Dead Yet Faults News Service Over Kevorkian Poll
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 31, 2007

FOREST PARK, ILLINOIS--Two days prior to the release of notorious Jack "Dr. Death" Kevorkian, the disability rights group Not Dead Yet expressed outrage at a national poll that shows a small majority support the assisted suicide crusader.

In a Wednesday press statement, Not Dead Yet, which was launched in 1983 in response to Kevorkian's campaign to legalize assisted suicide, faulted the Associated Press for its wording of a question in the May 22-24 AP-Ipsos Poll, to which 53 percent of respondents said they believed Kevorkian should not have served time for murder in the death of Thomas Youk, who had ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The question, "Do you think that Michigan doctor Jack Kevorkian should have been jailed for assisting terminally ill people end their own life, or not?", misinformed the respondents about the nature of Kevorkian's crime, Not Dead Yet wrote.

"As anyone who watched the 60 Minutes telecast knows, Kevorkian directly injected lethal chemicals into Thomas Youk. This is not assistance," said Not Dead Yet's research analyst Steve Drake, referring to the death of Mr. Youk. Kevorkian showed a videotape of Youk's death on the CBS news magazine. That tape was used as evidence to convict him of second-degree murder.

"Further, the word 'people' is paired with 'terminally ill', indicating that the majority of his body count consisted of people who were close to death . . . there is overwhelming documentation that the majority of people who went to Kevorkian had non-lethal chronic conditions and disabilities."

Not Dead Yet noted that the AP rejected its demand that the news service publish a retraction and correction.

State corrections officials announced on December 13 of last year that the Michigan Parole Board had agreed to release Kevorkian on June 1, which is his earliest possible release date under his 10-25 year sentence for second-degree murder that he began serving in 1999.

Kevorkian's attorney asked on five different occasions as early as 2003 that Kevorkian be released earlier because of his deteriorating health -- each time claiming he had less than a year to live.

On December 14, Not Dead Yet predicted that Kevorkian would go through a "near miraculous" recovery upon release -- at least enough for him to make numerous media appearances and speaking engagements. First on his list of public appearances would likely be Mike Wallace or Barbara Walters, who could be expected to do a "very sympathetic and biased interview" with Kevorkian, Not Dead Yet said.

"They'll downplay his history of helping non-terminally ill disabled people commit suicide and portray him as some kind of martyr," Not Dead Yet wrote in December. "They won't mention his advocacy of lethal experimentation on death row prisoners or disabled infants at all."

Many disability rights advocates have long opposed Kevorkian and his public crusade to legalize assisted suicide. They have argued that doing so would essentially make it "open season" for people with disabilities who are often considered a "burden" on society -- particularly at a time when the cost of health care is high.

They have also noted that many people Kevorkian "helped" end their lives were not in the final stages of terminal illnesses, but instead had disabilities and were in emotional, psychological or social crises, which made them more vulnerable.

"Disability Activists Demand Retraction and Correction from Associated Press" (Not Dead Yet)
"Jack Kevorkian: "Dr. Death" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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