In 1966, he published an article, Our Unforgiveable Trespass, in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, in support of JW parents denying their children blood transfusions and that article was used by the WTS in their 1973 publication directed to the medical community - Jehovah's Witnesses Alternatives to Blood Transfusions.
About who Dr. Kevorkian was at the time he wrote this article:
While serving his residency at the University of Michigan hospital in the 1950s, Kevorkian became fascinated by death and the act of dying. He made regular visits to terminally ill patients, photographing their eyes in an attempt to pinpoint the exact moment of death. Kevorkian believed that doctors could use the information to distinguish death from fainting, shock or coma in order to learn when resuscitation was useless. "But really, my number one reason was because it was interesting," Kevorkian told reporters later. "And my second reason was because it was a taboo subject."
Not one to avoid distasteful ideas, Kevorkian again caused a stir with colleagues by proposing that death-row prison inmates be used as the subjects of medical experiments while they were still alive. Inspired by research that described medical experiments the ancient Greeks conducted on Egyptian criminals, Kevorkian formulated the idea that similar modern experiments could not only save valuable research dollars, but also provide a glimpse into the anatomy of the criminal mind. In 1958, he advocated his view in a paper presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In a method he called "terminal human experimentation", he argued that condemned convicts could provide a service to humanity before their execution by volunteering for "painless" medical experiments that would begin while they were conscious, but would end in fatality. For his unorthodox experiments and strange proposals, Jack Kevorkian's peers gave him the nickname "Dr. Death."
Kevorkian's controversial views earned him minor media attention which ultimately resulted in his ejection from the University of Michigan Medical Center. He continued his internship at Pontiac General Hospital instead, where he began another set of controversial experiments. After hearing about a Russian medical team who was transfusing blood from corpses into living patients, Kevorkian enlisted the help of medical technologist Neal Nicol to simulate these same experiments.
The results were highly sucessful, and Kevorkian believed the procedure could help save lives on the battlefield -- if blood from a bank was unavailable, doctors might use Kevorkian's research to transfuse the blood of corpse into an injured soldier. Kevorkian pitched his idea to the Pentagon, figuring it could be used in Vietnam, but the doctor was denied a federal grant to continue his research. Instead, the research fueled his reputation as an outsider, scared his colleagues and eventually infected Kevorkian with Hepatits C.
Crusade for Assisted Suicide
After qualifying as a specialist in 1960, Kevorkian bounced around the country from hospital to hospital, publishing more than 30 professional journal articles and booklets about his philosophy on death, before setting up his own clinic near Detroit, Michigan. The business ultimately failed, and Kevorkian headed to California to commute between two part-time pathology jobs in Long Beach. These jobs also ended quickly when Kevorkian quit in another dispute with a chief pathologist; Jack claimed that his career was doomed by physicians who feared his radical ideas.
Kevorkian "retired" to devote his time to a film project about Handel's Messiahas well as research for his reinvigorated death-row campaign. By 1970, however, Kevorkian was still jobless and had also lost his fiancee; he broke off the relationship after finding his bride-to-be lacking in self-discipline. By 1982, Kevorkian was living alone, occasionally sleeping in his car, living off of canned food and social security.
The article, full of hyperbole and contradiction, as it appeared in the WTS publication:
*note - the underlined sections are as they appear in the WTS publication - the underlining was added by the WTS
Clinical Pediatrics, Vol 5, No. 12
Our Unforgivable Trespass
Jack Kevorkian, M.D.
Scene: Saturday night in a city hospital. An anemic six-year-old child must undergo an emergency major operation. Several blood transfusions will be necessary before the surgeon can begin his work. Without the transfusions chances of survival are nil; the outlook is greater than 50-50 if the blood is given. But the parents refuse permission for transfusion! They will allow surgery but blood is not to be given to their child. Their religious principles absolutely proscribe it. All argumentation is to no avail. Doctors and hospital officials are perplexed, angered, and even outraged. Hurriedly a meeting is held. What to do? The courts are closed till Monday. There’s only one recourse. A judge is called, and an emergency “court” session is held in his home. After this due process of law, the child is made a temporary waif and a ward of the court. Authority is immediately granted to the medical personnel to proceed with transfusions and surgery. The blood is given. The operation is performed. And all ends well.
Or does it? One can say only that most ends well, for the will of the majority triumphed in the above dramatic situation – the will of the doctors, nurses, technologists, judges, administrators, and lay masses composing society. They are the “good guys” who saved a life despite the stupid, narrow-minded, misguided, fanatic obstinacy of two pitiful human beings who should know better. These two are part of the antipodal minority who, if they are realistic, do not hope to be heeded in the illogical rush of modern society.
Posed, however, is a far more profound problem than the superficial judicial treatment described here would indicate. Criss-crossing through it are divergent concepts of the importance and meaning of religion and law, of disease and health, and of life and death. Such concepts and the reactions to them are grounded firmly in a wide spectrum of subjectivity, scrutiny of which has taxed the greatest philosophical minds. To even begin to probe their connection with the problem at hand is hopelessly beyond the scope of this brief exploration of insight and understanding and, perhaps, even of sympathy for the child’s parents.
The first obvious question is crucial: which is the highest ideal and the greatest Good, religion or secular law? If one answers law, then for him, the problem doesn’t even exist. He can stop here, for the greatest Good in theory will have prevailed over a lesser (by definition) Good in practice. This is consistent and logical, but basically irreligious and atheistic.
If one answers that both are equally Good, the conflict becomes insoluble. The morality of any action concerning it would, of necessity, become unassessable in any instance. The concepts “law” and “religion” would be artificial indefinable, and fundamentally inseparable. He, too, can stop here.
Now, if religion or any sort of faith in the supernatural is higher than law, then the problem is again easily resolved. Where the two conflict, religious tenets will prevail. But just what is religion? Does a highly unorthodox snake-handling cult constitute a religious faith? Would its doctrines supersede law? It seems to me that any group of individuals professing a certain faith, no matter how extraordinary or “fallacious” it may seem, ought to be allowed to exercise the principles of that faith, even at the risk of possible bodily or spiritual damage to themselves, so long as others outside that faith are in no way threatened or endangered. Thus law, in this example admittedly a lesser Good, should not supersede faith except to protect non-believers. (just as in epidemics of contagious diseases the rights and liberties of an individual are restricted by law to protect the welfare of the community). Deadly snakes may harm some one not directly concerned with ritual handling, and the practice could justifiably be regulated by law. On the other hand, if receiving a blood transfusion is contrary to the religious teachings being followed by an individual, judicial enforcement would be immoral; for society would thereby have invoked a lesser Good to violate a higher principle in a situation not threatening, by any stretch of the imagination, any person or group holding any other belief or philosophic view.
Even if such intervention were assumed to be ethical and logical beyond question, one could not be sure that the action taken would indeed be beneficial for the individual concerned. It is true today that blood transfusions under certain circumstances are undeniably beneficial, and that to doubt this borders on insanity. At the same time one should bear in mind that to have doubted the medical efficacy of using leeches for exsanguinations – even in the treatment of undetected or unrecognized anemia – at the time it was practiced several centuries ago would likewise have been branded insanity and heresy of the highest order. Can any rational man say with sincere certainty that the use of blood transfusions will not be looked upon as utter foolishness several centuries hence?
The point in all this is clear. Current medical procedures are at best only relatively beneficial, being based upon empirical knowledge and experience. Knowledge yet to be gained is not only infinite in amount and quality; it vastly outweighs that which we have. In other words, everything humans think or do is based on relative ignorance, not on relative knowledge. This very precarious situation is easy to ignore. To compound things by using that precarious state to justify forcible desecration of a defenseless citizen’s own spiritual world would b tolerable only to a callous, passionate, and reckless organism such as man. If in the future blood transfusions are adjudged to be a form of “leech medicine”, then posterity will have cause to damn us doubly. That is the risk the “good guys” are taking, though to them it may seem specious or small.
Up to this point many might agree without a great deal of persuasion. What seems to be unacceptable is the concept of endangering the life of an innocent ignorant child through scrupulous adherence to religious doctrine. One should not lose sight of the fact that primary responsibility for the rearing and welfare of the child rests with the parents. They are closer to the child both physically and spiritually than the impersonal corporation called “society”. They have the right - indeed, almost a duty – to impart their religious or philosophical doctrines (within the framework mentioned earlier) to the child. Their right has priority. If the parents chose to live or die according to the dictates of a certain creed, then the child should follow suit. In essence, both act involuntarily; the effect is caused by what is designated as divine revelation, and not by human volition or caprice.
The dilemma boils down to a vital philosophical argument: in questions involving personal highest principles of parents versus law of society, which should hold sway? If the latter, as is now the case, then pure socialism is the greatest Good, and Plato’s Republic is the bible, and one could never know (or care) which principles could be foisted on whose children. Organized religion would be no more than a meaningless farce and a mockery; the state supreme.
Perhaps the most fundamental question is what is the value of terrestrial life, anyway? Is it to be valued above all else? If so, then society’s present outlook is correct. Save the life of the child at all costs! Spend all the money; use all the material; smash all the doctrines! Socrates be damned!
If not, if there is some principle higher than life, if Socrates point did get across, then the “good guys” are wrong. The life of the child becomes less important than the integrity of religious principles to which the parents adhere and according to which they wish to raise him.
Maybe the warmth of a historical example will drive home this point more firmly. Most people in the Western World profess to be Christians. They respect other Christians and almost deify the early martyrs who were fed to the lions in ancient Rome rather than renounce their faith. Almost deify them! Yet those early martyrs joyously allowed their own children to die in lions’ jaws. Innocent, ignorant children! And the martyrs are idolized, because 2000 years ago they were the “good guys” who apparently professed exactly the same principles as the “good guys” do today, and who luckily didn’t have to worry about the transfusion problem complicating the harassment of Nero’s legions. Why for religious reasons can the involuntary, artificial (and much more grotesque) death of children then be almost divine, and the involuntary, but entirely natural death of the same kind of children for the same reasons now be almost criminal? After all, in both instances minority beliefs are and were involved? What’s the difference?
Lack of reason and common sense, and emotionalism, and hypocrisy – these make the difference; and it’s a big one to most minds!