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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 137168 Find in a Library
Title: Can a Suicide Machine Trigger the Murder Statute?
Journal: Wayne Law Review  Volume:37  Issue:4  Dated:(Summer 1991)  Pages:1921-1950
Author(s): S K Jezewski
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 30
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Medically assisted suicide represents the largest expansion in right-to-die issues, and the particular issue of an individual's right to terminate his or her own life is especially controversial.
Abstract: In Michigan, Dr. Jack Kevorkian's suicide machine presented the courts with an additional facet of the right-to-die dilemma. A 54-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease committed suicide with the aid of this machine in June 1990. News of her suicide generated strong public reaction from both right-to-die advocates and those opposed to this judicially created doctrine. Kevorkian was found not guilty under the Michigan murder statute and was acquitted of the first-degree murder charge brought against him. From a legal standpoint, criminal assistance in the case of suicide requires an examination of the definition of homicide. By definition, anyone who assists a suicide is not guilty of homicide, since the act involves the killing of one human being by another. Criminal assistance must also be evaluated in terms of intent, causation, and whether any defenses to aiding and abetting a suicide should be allowed. Policy considerations are also important, such as judicial deference to the legislative branch, religious and moral considerations, and ethical issues. The Michigan Senate, uncomfortable with the prospect of Michigan being labeled the "suicide state," has proposed legislation to make those who aid or assist a suicide guilty of a felony. 161 footnotes
Main Term(s): Medically assisted suicide; Suicide
Index Term(s): Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Michigan; Murder; State laws
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