The University Record, February 15, 1999

Legal, ethical, religious experts, writers debate coverage of assisted suicide

By Bernard DeGroat
News and Information Services

Mike Wallace, Clarence Page, Betty Rollin and other journalists who have reported on assisted suicide and euthanasia will debate the issue with legal, ethical and religious experts 1–5 p.m. Feb. 22 in Room 100, Hutchins Hall, at the Law School.

The free, public conference, “Covering Assisted Death: The Press, The Law and Public Policy,” will focus on how well both experts and journalists have presented the topic to the public.

Wallace will discuss the first broadcast of an assisted suicide performed by Dr. Jack Kevorkian on the CBS program “60 Minutes,” while Page, the nationally syndicated columnist, will address African American perspectives on the subject. Rollin, an author and NBC News correspondent, will share her experience with her mother’s suicide, described in her best-selling book Last Wish.

Other conference participants include: law professors Yale Kamisar of the U-M and Robert Sedler of Wayne State University; Derek Humphry, author of Final Exit; Martin Haag, senior vice president of A.H. Belo Television, whose stations decided not to run the “60 Minutes” segment; columnist Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle; Jack Lessenberry, free-lance reporter for the New York Times, Vanity Fair and other national publications; Faye Girsh, executive director of the Hemlock Society; Yank D. Coble, a member of the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees; and Richard Doerflinger, associate director for policy development for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In addition, ethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania and Ljubisa Dragovic, the Oakland County medical examiner who has ruled each of the Kervorkian-assisted suicides as homicides, will make presentations.

The conference is sponsored by the Michigan Journalism Fellows in cooperation with the Law School with a grant from the Kellogg Foundation. For more information, call 998-7666.