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Doctor Jack Kevorkian assisted John Zedanowicz to commit suicide last Thursday, his attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, announced in a speech at the Law School on Friday.
Zedanowicz suffered from ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. In addition to causing muscle deterioration, sufferers of ALS choke on their own fluids and are revived repeatedly in a process Fieger described as "psychologically terrifying," particularly since the disease leaves their mental abilities intact.
The Supreme Court ruled last May that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to assistance in suicide. The result is that states have the right to distinguish between refusing treatment and assisting suicide.
Fieger criticized this decision and lawyer who argued the case before the court.
"The idea that you have to look back in history to decide what to do about issues today [is] Neanderthar...because medical science has progressed far enough," Fieger said about the Constitutional basis of the Court's decision.
Fieger thought his experience with Kevorkian had prepared him to argue the case better than the actual petitioner.
"They kept [me] out of the Supreme Court so that some snivelling guy from Harvard could go up there and say it's your right if you're six months terminal and then have him lose nine to nothing because he didn't have the guts to say 'You're wrong,"' Fieger said.
"Your argue that this is a constitutional right because it's a natural function of the human body to die," Fieger said.
Fieger said that he has never heard a reason why mentally competent adults should not be able to make decisions about their own lives.
"[The Christian Right is] legislating away your fundamental right to be left alone," Fieger said.
According to Fieger, few people have "had the guts" to speak on behalf of the right to death movement.
"This is the civil rights issue of your generation," Fieger said.
"You're entirely apathetic" Fieger added. "I'm speaking of this society as a whole....But for some [Kevorkian] who's standing up saying 'let's do it."'
Fieger went on to describe Kevorkian, who is often called the "Dr.Death," as a true American hero.
"He's no more a crazy man that any of you sitting here...he's an amazingly smart man," Fieger said.
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