Assisted suicide activist Jack Kevorkian, who has had little support from physician groups in the United States, was declared a "hero" for his efforts by the British Medical Journal on Saturday.
The prestigious medical publication, in an editorial in its June 8 edition, lauded Kevorkian for his honor and courage to relieve suffering patients."Jack Kevorkian is a hero. No one has demonstrated any discernible motive from him except that he believes his work is right," wrote the British Medical Journal's North American editor, John Roberts.
Kevorkian, who has acknowledged attending 28 suicides since 1990, was acquitted by a jury on May 15 of assisted suicide charges for the third time in two years. Six separate attempts to prosecute the 68-year-old retired pathologist have failed.
He is widely recognized for advancing the debate on physician-assisted suicide in the United States, where two federal appeals courts this year have overturned state laws banning the practice.
Many legal experts believe the U.S. Supreme Court may soon face a landmark decision on whether Americans have a constitutional right to an assisted suicide.
The American Medical Association, the premier U.S. physicians group, has consistently opposed Kevorkian's actions as well as assisted suicide.
But Roberts said medicine has benefited from Kevorkian, whom he described as a man of action unmotivated by greed - he charges no fees for his services - or fame, and who is not afraid of criticism or prosecution.
"Kevorkian did not stop at words. He acted to end what he perceived as suffering and then turned to the law and said, 'I dare you to stop me.' And he seems to have won his dare."
In a statement, Kevorkian's lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger, thanked the British journal and unleashed more of his usual sharp criticism of Michigan prosecutors, appellate judges and legislators.
"The brutality and perverse malevolence which has been wreaked on Dr. Kevorkian should reveal to the world how truly backward the authorities in Michigan are," Fieger said.