DETROIT – Jack Kevorkian, whose failing health may deny him a chance to be paroled, said he still believes in assisted suicide but would not choose it for himself.
"Remember that I did not advocate assisted suicide," Kevorkian, 78, said in a written response to questions from The Detroit News published Thursday. "I only advocated that a person should have the right to have the option if he or she, in sound mind, needed and desired it while in irremedial pain and suffering and terminal."
Kevorkian claimed to have assisted in at least 130 deaths in the 1990s. Since being imprisoned in April 1999 for his role in the last of the deaths, the former pathologist has promised he would not assist in a suicide if he was released from prison.
"Only as a person who will speak out to its legalization," he told The News. "I will not be involved otherwise."
Kevorkian is being held at the Lakeland Correctional Facility near Coldwater in southwestern Michigan. He is eligible for parole in June 2007 but his attorney, Mayer Morganroth, has said he doubts he will live that long.
In court papers, Kevorkian's defense lawyers say he weighs 113 pounds, resembles a "walking cadaver" and "can barely walk and no longer has the energy to read or write."
The Michigan Parole Board has rejected four of Kevorkian's requests for early release.
"Essentially prisoners seeking early release are asking the state to overturn minimum sentences passed by juries, judges and courts. It is not done lightly," said Russ Marlan, a Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman. "He has stated he wasn't going to live in every (past) request. Since he is up next June, this will probably be examined again next March."
Kevorkian is serving a 10- to 25-year sentence for second-degree murder in the 1998 poisoning of Thomas Youk, 52, of Oakland County's Waterford Township. Youk had Lou Gehrig's disease, and Kevorkian called it a mercy killing.
The death was videotaped and shown on CBS' "60 Minutes."