Kevorkian foes to seek immediate ban Last-minute suicides continue

February 09, 1993|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. -- Dr. Jack Kevorkian's opponents are vowing to seek an immediate ban on assisted suicide following his role in the death yesterday of multiple sclerosis victim Elaine Goldbaum of Southfield.

A ban enacted late last year doesn't take effect until March 30 and opponents fear Dr. Kevorkian will continue his stepped-up pace in assisting suicides. Ms. Goldbaum, 47, was the sixth person Dr. Kevorkian has helped die during the waiting period and the 12th since June 1990.

Dr. Kevorkian has helped as many people die in the past two months as he did in the 2 1/2 years before the Legislature acted.

State Rep. Ken Sikkema, R-Grandville, said yesterday that legislation will be introduced, perhaps as early as this week, in the state Senate and that he would do everything in his power to get the House to pass the immediate ban.

An immediate ban would require a two-thirds majority in each house and probably take at least two weeks to accomplish, Mr. Sikkema said. Late last year, the House voted 72-29 for the law temporarily making assisted suicide a felony while a commission studies a permanent ban. The 110-member House fell two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for an immediate ban. Nine members were absent. The Senate approved the bill 24-6.

Ed Rivet, a lobbyist for Michigan Right to Life, said his organization will lead the fight for a new ban. For over two years, it has been the leading force behind legislative efforts to stop Dr. Kevorkian.

"We underestimated his arrogance," Mr. Rivet said. "The numbers are probably going to pile up at a more rapid rate."

Geoffrey Fieger, Dr. Kevorkian's attorney, said any new ban would be further indication that state lawmakers are controlled by "a right-wing fanatic religious minority" led by Right to Life. Mr. Fieger said Dr. Kevorkian, who has vowed to disobey any ban, gets five to 10 letters a day from people asking for his help.

Polls show most Michigan residents support the right of terminally ill people to get medical help in ending their lives.

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