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NEWS BRIEF: Jack Kevorkian dies

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (BP)--Jack Kevorkian, who became the face of the assisted-suicide movement while helping a self-estimated 130 people kill themselves in the 1990s, died June 3.


Kevorkian, 83, passed away in a Royal Oak, Mich., hospital, where he was being treated for heart and kidney problems, according to the Detroit Free Press.

"Dr. Death," as Kevorkian was known, became famous as an assisted-suicide advocate and practitioner. A pathologist, Kevorkian flaunted Michigan law but managed to escape murder convictions in four trials, the Free Press reported. He was convicted of second-degree murder for his part in a 1998 euthanasia death and served eight years and a month before being paroled in 2007.

In a 2006 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kevorkian said he still supported assisted suicide but thought he should have tried to change the law rather than assist illegally in people's deaths.

While Kevorkian gained widespread media attention and a number of supporters as an advocate for so-called "death with dignity," about 70 percent of those he helped die were not terminally ill, said pro-life, bioethics specialist Wesley Smith in a 2006 article for The Weekly Standard. "Most were disabled and depressed," Smith wrote. "At least five had no discernible illnesses upon autopsy."

Upon learning of Kevorkian's death, Smith wrote on his blog, "Kevorkian was a disturbed man who, I fear, understood his society -- and the media -- all too well. And that may be his legacy. He perceived how far some will bend to rationalize even the most egregious wrongdoing or advocacy if the excuse is relieving suffering. Time will tell if he was also a prophet of a dark utilitarian society to come."


CATHOLIC CHARITIES DROP ADOPTIONS BECAUSE OF CIVIL UNIONS -- Catholic Charities of Rockford, Ill. -- which works with 11 counties -- has decided to stop offering foster care and adoption services rather than violate its religious beliefs in light of Illinois' new civil unions law.

The law, which took effect June 1, would have forced adoption agencies that receive state aid to place some children in homes with same-sex couples. The legislature failed to pass an amendment to the law that would have protected faith-based groups from being forced to violate their deeply held beliefs about which homes are best for kids. "The law of our land has always guaranteed its people freedom of religion," said Penny Wiegert, the Rockford Diocese's director of communication. "Denying this exemption to faith-based agencies leads one to believe that our lawmakers prefer laws that guarantee freedom from religion. We simply cannot compromise the spirit that motivates us to deliver quality professional services to families by letting our state define our religious teachings."

Catholic Charities of Boston also chose to drop its adoption services when Massachusetts legalized "same-sex marriage."

YOUNGER GENERATION STRONG ON LIFE ISSUE -- The 18- to 34-year-old generation leads all age groups in the percentage (53) that believes abortion is morally wrong, according to a new Gallup poll. And just 31 percent of that age group says abortion should be legal under any circumstance. The annual Gallup poll on abortion, released May 23, found that 42 percent of young people identify as "pro-life," but a closer look at the numbers show that "pro-choice" doesn't mean support for abortion at all times and for any reason.


"The tide is turning in America," said Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America. "More and more young people want abortion to be illegal."

Jonathan Rogers, field coordinator for National Right to Life, said the challenge is to get young adults to take their pro-life views with them to the polls.

"In 2008, what young voters marked on their ballots did not line up with their instincts," he said. "One of the most pro-life generations ever voted for one of the most pro-abortion candidates ever. The pro-life movement can and should be doing everything possible to educate younger voters right now, to buttress their instincts with substance."

The Kevorkian brief was compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. The other two briefs are courtesy of World News Service.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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