Kevorkian attorney says dead body in car was message to doctors

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) Leaving a woman's body in a hospital parking lot was Dr. Jack Kevorkian's way of telling doctors to support his push for physician-assisted suicide, his attorney said.

''Prosecutor, get out; police, get out,'' attorney Geoffrey Fieger said Monday. ''Doctors at Beaumont Hospital, come on in. Step up. That's what we're saying.''

Esther Cohan, a 46-year-old former secretary who suffered from multiple sclerosis, was found dead Monday in the back seat of an old car parked outside William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, a Detroit suburb.

Cohan, who lived in Skokie, Ill., died of carbon monoxide poisoning, said Oakland County Medical Examiner L.J. Dragovic, who ruled the death a homicide.

Her death was at least the 25th Kevorkian attended since 1990.

''As things went from bad to worse and I was nothing more than a bed veg, I knew it was time to say, 'See ya,' '' Cohan wrote in an Aug. 9 letter addressed ''to all.''

Her sister, Judy Cohan, who also attended the death, said Cohan backed Kevorkian even before her condition worsened 15 months ago. By then she had stopped working and could no longer even go to the bathroom unaided, her sister said.

Esther Cohan wanted ''to make a statement,'' her sister said. ''This was what she wanted and she was given the option to back out several times, and she refused.''

Kevorkian, who lost his medical license during his crusade, faces possible murder charges. The prosecutor's office said a decision on the Cohan case would await the police investigation.

Dr. Nancy Dickey, who serves on the board of the American Medical Association, said her group wants Kevorkian prosecuted. ''There is a fine, but definite line beyond which physicians should not go in actively taking a patient's life,'' she said.

A state ban on assisted suicide enacted in 1993 to stop Kevorkian was ruled unconstitutional on various grounds by lower courts. But the Michigan Supreme Court ruled last year that the Constitution does not include a right to assisted suicide, and that aiding suicide could be prosecuted under state common law. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider Kevorkian's appeal.

On Monday, a bill to permit assisted suicide was filed by state Sen. James Berryman. If passed by the Legislature, it would go to voters as a 1996 ballot measure.

Read Next Article