Kevorkian: Assisted suicide 'discussed to death'

DETROIT (AP) — Jack Kevorkian says assisted suicide has been "discussed to death."

The assisted suicide advocate known as "Dr. Death" said Thursday the HBO biographical movie "You Don't Know Jack" is unlikely to inspire much action but he's delighted and honored by the "superbly done" film about his crusade.

"It may stimulate a little more discussion — maybe even a little more probing discussion," Kevorkian told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "But it won't stimulate anybody to act, I'm sure."

The 82-year-old from Michigan has claimed he attended more than 130 deaths before being convicted of second-degree murder in 1999. He said only the threat of returning to prison keeps him from assisting in any more suicides.

Kevorkian, who was released from prison nearly three years ago and spends much of his time writing books, said he continues to provide "moral courage" to the cause. Still, he's not interested in merely rekindling the debate he helped spur 20 years ago.

He started making headlines on June 4, 1990, when the body of a woman with Alzheimer's disease was found in his van at an Oakland County park. Janet Adkins, 54, of Portland, Ore., received a lethal dose of drugs by pressing a button on a machine developed by Kevorkian.

"You'll hear people say, 'Well, it's in the news again, it's time for discussing this further.' No it isn't. It's been discussed to death," he said. "There's nothing new to say about it. It's a legitimate ethical medical practice as it was in ancient Rome and Greece."

Kevorkian attended a reception and screening of "You Don't Know Jack" Thursday evening at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The Detroit Free Press reported that the audience of about 500 gave Kevorkian a standing ovation.

The film debuts Saturday night on HBO and features Al Pacino as Kevorkian.

Kevorkian walked the red carpet last week with Pacino at the New York premiere of the film and had high praise for the actor — "down-to-earth" — and his performance — "superb."

Kevorkian's friend and attorney Mayer Morganroth said the pair hit it off, speaking for hours at dinner afterward. More than once, Morganroth said, Pacino told Kevorkian that it was an honor to play him.

"It's a high honor for me," Kevorkian said. "You feel an immediate surge of gratitude and pride."

When asked how his own epitaph should read, Kevorkian said it should reflect what he believes to be his "real virtue."

"I am quite honest. I have trouble lying. I don't like people who lie," he said.

Kevorkian, who said he finds the greatest dishonesty in politics, actually ran for Congress in 2008 as an independent in the suburban Detroit congressional district won by Democrat Gary Peters. He promoted the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects rights not explicitly specified elsewhere in the Constitution such as dying through assisted suicide.

The amendment became the topic for a book he wrote while in prison, "Amendment IX: Our Cornucopia of Rights."

"All law can do is stop you from exercising your rights," he said.