Sen. Debbie Stabenow has long been a supporter of doctor-prescribed suicide. Doctor-prescribed suicide involves doctors being legally allowed to dispense lethal doses of drugs to patients so that they can commit suicide.
While a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Stabenow voted against the Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999. The bipartisan bill would have done two important things to clarify a federal drug law, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The bill would have clarified that the CSA allows adequate use of pain control medications in patients, and that the CSA does not allow federally-controlled substances to be prescribed in lethal dosages with the intent of killing a patient.
In her time in the Michigan State Legislature Stabenow voted against banning doctor-prescribed suicide. Michigan's 1998 law prohibiting the practice has a truly unique history that must be remembered for context.
From 1990 to 1998 Jack Kevorkian participated in a string of killings involving a claimed 130 patients, the vast majority of whom were not terminally ill. Some of his victims had no diagnosed disease at all. In 1998 Kevorkian euthanized 52-year old Thomas Youk and filmed the killing for CBS's 60 Minutes. Kevorkian was later convicted of second-degree murder in the death.
Kevorkian's goal was to allow the practice of human vivisection in order to serve his macabre fascination with the point of death. Vivisection (nicknamed "obitiatry" by Kevorkian) is medical experimentation on a living being. Kevorkian hoped he would be able to experiment on suicidal people and convicts. In his book, "Prescription Medicine," Kevorkian described his eventual goal:
"But knowledge about the essence of human death will of necessity require insight into the nature of the unique awareness of or consciousness that characterizes cognitive human life. That is possible only through obitiatric research on living human bodies, and most likely centering on the nervous system…on anesthetized subjects [to] pinpoint the exact onset of extinction of an unknown cognitive mechanism that energizes life."
It was in these years of intense controversy that repeated efforts to ban his work were undertaken, including the eventual ban on doctor-prescribed suicide enacted in 1998. Stabenow opposed this effort to stop Kevorkian's killings. The Michigan voters had the final say when they turned back a referendum later in 1998 to legalized doctor-prescribed suicide by a vote of 71 to 29 percent.