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In the summer of 1989, an unknown and disenfranchised doctor created a machine that would assist ill patients in ending their lives. The machine began by intravenous delivery of a saline solution into the patient's body. Then, when the patient pushed a button, the saline stopped, and thiopental, which put the patient into a coma, was delivered for 60 seconds. When the thiopental ran out, a lethal dose of potassium chloride was delivered. The machine was called “Thanatron” by the doctor, which is Greek for “death machine.” Although the doctor, Jack Kevorkian, continually ran ads in the paper to solicit “customers,” his death machine went unused until the following summer.

On November 13, 1989, Ronald Adkins of Portland, Oregon, who read an article about Jack Kevorkian, ...

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