Doctor-assisted suicide in the United States is synonymous with Dr. Jack Kervorkian, who spent a lifetime fighting for the right. A tireless advocate for euthanasia, Kervorkian spent eight years in jail (beginning in 1999) on a 10-to-25 year conviction for second degree murder. He had helped a terminally ill patient end life early.
Kervorkian would have celebrated this week when California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that permits doctor-assisted euthanasia in his state. Brown signed the bill on October 5, explaining that in his view, “it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill” if he were “dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.” California will join Oregon, Montana, Vermont and Washington as states with so-called Death With Dignity laws. Kervorkian, who died of natural causes in 2011 at age 83, has a tombstone that reads: He sacrificed himself for everyone’s rights.