Showing posts with label Kenneth Stevens MD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kenneth Stevens MD. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Declaration of Jeanette Hall 23 Years After She Was Talked Out of Assisted Suicide in Oregon

Jeanette with her son Scott, shortly
after she changed her mind

I, JEANETTE HALL, declare as follows:

1.  I live in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. Our law was enacted in 1997 via a ballot measure that I voted for.

2.  In 2000, I was diagnosed with cancer and told that I had 6 months to a year to live. I knew that our law had passed, but I didn’t know exactly how to go about doing it. I tried to ask my doctor, Kenneth Stevens MD, but he didn’t really answer me. In hindsight, he was stalling me.

3.  I did not want to suffer. I wanted to do our law and I wanted Dr. Stevens to help me. Instead, he encouraged me to not give up and ultimately I decided to fight the cancer. I had both chemotherapy and radiation. I am happy to be alive!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"Do or Refer" Doctors Are Not Allowed to Use Their Best Judgment for Individual Patients (No More Jeanette Halls)

Jeanette Hall with her son Scott
shortly after she changed
her mind.
Margaret Dore Esq., MBA*

Yesterday, a doctor asked me about "do or refer" provisions in some of the newer bills seeking to legalize assisted suicide in the United States. For this reason, I now address the subject in the context of a 2018 Wisconsin bill, which did not pass.

The bill, AB 216, required the patient's attending physician to "fulfill the request for medication or refer," i.e. to write a lethal prescription for the purpose of killing the patient, or to make an effective referral to another physician, who would do it.

The bill also said that the attending physician's failure to comply would be "unprofessional conduct" such that the physician would be subject to discipline. The bill states:

Friday, February 9, 2018

"Prescribe or Refer" Is Anti-Patient: Doctors Are Not Allowed to Use Their Best Judgment for Individual Patients (No More Jeanette Halls)

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
By Margaret Dore Esq., MBA - updated 05/12/18

A Wisconsin bill seeking to legalize assisted suicide, requires the patient's attending physician to "prescribe or refer" i.e., to write a lethal prescription for the purpose of killing the patient, 
or to make an effective referral to another physician, who will do it.

The bill, AB 216, also says that the attending physician's failure to comply is "unprofessional conduct" such that the physician would be subject to discipline. The bill states:
[F]ailure of an attending physician to fulfill a request for medication [the lethal dose] constitutes unprofessional conduct if the attending physician refuses or fails to make a good faith attempt to transfer the requester's care and treatment to another physician who will act as attending physician under this chapter and fulfill the request for medication. (Emphasis added).*
A significance of prescribe or refer is that it's anti-patient, by not allowing doctors to use their best judgment for individual patients.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Utah: Testimony of Kenneth Stevens MD Opposing Assisted Suicide

To view testimony as a pdf, click here.

1.  I strongly urge you to Vote No on HB 264, which seeks to legalize physician assisted suicide in Utah

Photo of me and my patient Jeanette Hall, 15 years after
I talked her out of assisted suicide in Oregon
Photo credit - Daily Signal
I am a cancer doctor in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I was also raised in Logan, graduated from USU, and received my MD from the University of Utah Medical School 50 years ago. I am Professor Emeritus and former chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Oregon Health and Science University. I regularly visit Utah. I continue to practice in my cancer medical specialty.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Canada: Oregon Doctor Urges Rejection of Carter and Bill C-14

Dear Member of Canadian Parliament,

VOTE NO ON BILL C-14; INVOKE THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE TO OVERRIDE THE CARTER DECISION

"Don't follow Oregon's
 failed experiment"
For 49 years I have been a cancer doctor in Oregon where assisted suicide has been legal for a number of years. I have seen the tragedy and harm to patients, the medical profession and society from assisted suicide.

If enacted Bill C-14 will encourage people with years to live to have their lives terminated prematurely. My patient, Jeanette Hall, wanted assisted suicide from me in 2000. After helping her have hope in her cancer condition, she agreed to be treated and is now alive and very well 15 years later.  She says, "It's great to be alive!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

"No" on Bill C-14 and Carter; No Assisted Suicide; No Euthanasia

Robert-Falcon Ouellette
Dear MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette:

I was happy to see the CBC article concerning your reluctance to endorse Bill C-14. You are right to be concerned.

I am a lawyer in Washington State USA where assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal. Bill C-14 and legalization generally will encourage people with years to live to throw away their lives. Carter was wrong. Legalization does not promote the right to life.

Please consider the following reasons:

1.  The bill's title, "medical assistance in dying," implies that eligible people are dying. There is no requirement that people be dying. They are instead required to have a "grievous and irremediable medical condition." See Bill C-14
§ 241.2(2).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Updated California Materials Against ABX2-15

To view new materials against ABX2-15, seeking to legalize physician-assisted suicide, click here.

If the document is "too big," click here and here for the memo and its appendix as separate documents.

Overview 

ABX2-15, the “End of Life Option Act,” seeking to legalize physician-assisted suicide in California is a recipe for elder abuse.  The bill is not limited to people who are dying.  Indeed, “eligible” persons can have years, even decades, to live.

In Oregon, which has a similar law, that state’s Medicaid program uses coverage incentives to steer people to suicide.  If ABX2-15 is enacted, California’s Medicaid program, as well as private insurers, will be able to engage in this same conduct.  Do you want this to happen to you or your family?

The bill has a myriad of other problems.  Please vote “No” on ABX2-15.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Memo to the California State Assembly: "No" on SB 128

The original pdf version of this memo has an executive summary and index, which can be viewed here. The attachments can be viewed here.


I. INTRODUCTION.

I am an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.[1] Our law is based on a similar law in Oregon. Both laws are similar to the proposed California bill, SB 128.[2] 

Enactment of SB 128 will create new paths of elder abuse. “Eligible” patients will include people with years, even decades, to live.  

I urge you to reject this measure. Do not make Washington’s and Oregon’s mistake.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"Big Business" and Assisted Suicide

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA*

Assemblyman Roger Hernandez was recently quoted as concerned that big business would use California's assisted suicide proposal, SB 128, to "guide people in that direction," meaning early death via a lethal overdose.

This is a valid concern.

I am an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. Our law is based on a similar law in Oregon. Both laws are similar to SB 128, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in California.

In Oregon, it is well documented that Oregon's Medicaid program uses coverage incentives to steer people to suicide.  See Affidavit of Oregon doctor, Ken Stevens, pp 3-4 athttps://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/dr-stevens-affidavit_001.pdf  With legal assisted suicide, private health plans have this same ability.  Dr. Stevens states:
If assisted suicide is legalized in [your state], your government health plan could follow a similar pattern.  Private health plans could also follow this pattern.  If so, these plans would pay for you and/or your family to die, but not to live.  (Emphasis added).
Id, ¶16.

Dr. Stevens also notes that the mere presence of legal assisted suicide steers people to suicide, which was the case with his patient Jeanette Hall.  Her cancer treatment was fully covered, but with the existence of Oregon's law, she nonetheless became adamant that she would kill herself.  Dr. Stevens convinced her to be treated instead.  (Affidavit, ¶¶ 5-9).  She is alive today, fifteen years later.

As for Assemblyman Hernandez's specific "big business concern," in 2013, a Montana State Senator made a similar observation:
I found myself wondering, Where does all the lobby money come from?  If it really is about a few terminally ill people who might seek help ending their suffering, why was more money spent on promoting assisted suicide than any other issue in Montana?
Could it be that convincing an ill person to end their life early will help health insurance companies save a bundle on what would have been ongoing medical treatment?  How much would the government gain if it stopped paying social security, Medicare, or Medicaid a few months early? [it could actually be years earlier].  How much financial relief would pension systems see?  Why was the proposed law to legalize assisted suicide [SB 220] written so loosely?  Would vulnerable old people be encouraged to end their life unnecessarily early by those seeking financial gain? 
http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/06/beware-of-vultures-senator-jennifer.html

Finally, there is the expansion issue. In Washington State, we have had informal "trial balloon" proposals to expand our law to non-terminal people. For me, the most disturbing one was in the Seattle Times, which is our largest paper. A column suggested euthanasia as a solution for people without funds in their old age, which could be any of us, say if the company pension plan went broke.**

Assemblyman Hernandez is right to be concerned about what could happen to his constituents if SB 128 is passed.

Don't let California make Washington and Oregon's mistake.  Urge your legislators to vote "NO" on SB 128.

///
             
* Margaret Dore is a former Law Clerk to the Washington State Supreme Court and the Washington State Court of Appeals.  She is a former Chair of the Elder Law Section of the ABA Family Law Committee.  She also worked for a year with the United States Department of Justice.  She is president of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia.  To learn more, see www.margaretdore.com and www.choiceillusion.org

**  Jerry Large, "Planning for old age at a premium," The Seattle Times, March 8, 2012 ("After Monday's column, . . . a few [readers] suggested that if you couldn't save enough money to see you through your old age, you shouldn't expect society to bail you out. At least a couple mentioned euthanasia as a solution.") (Emphasis added).https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/jerry-large_001.pdf

Monday, May 18, 2015

Assisted Suicide: How One Woman Chose to Die, Then Survived

http://dailysignal.com/2015/05/18/assisted-suicide-how-one-woman-chose-to-die-then-survived/

Kelsey Harkness /
In 1994, Jeanne Hall, a resident of King City, Ore., voted in favor of Ballot Measure 16, which for the first time in the United States, would allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives through physician-assisted suicide.

“I thought, hey, I wouldn’t want anyone to suffer,” Hall told The Daily Signal. “So I checked it. Then it became legal.”

That day at the ballot box, Hall never could have predicted that more than 15 years later, she would be diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer.

Doctors gave Hall, who was 55 at the time, two options: She could get radiation and chemotherapy and attempt to fight the cancer, or she could take a lethal dose of barbiturates to end her life.

“I was calling it over,” she said. “I wasn’t going to do chemo. When I heard what might take place in radiation "I wasn’t going to do it. I looked for the easy way out.”

Without treatment, Hall was given six months to a year to live, and therefore qualified for physician-assisted suicide through Oregon’s Death With Dignity law.

“She was terminal because she was refusing treatment,” Dr. Kenneth Stevens, one of Hall’s two cancer doctors, told The Daily Signal. “It’s like a person could be considered terminal if they’re not taking [their] insulin or [other] medications.”

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Kenneth Stevens, MD, supporting SB 5919.

My name is Dr. Kenneth Stevens. I live in Sherwood, Oregon. I'm testifying in favor of Senate Bill 5919, which amends Washington's Death with Dignity Act.

I'm a cancer doctor in Oregon, where we've had the similar act since 1997. I'm also a professor emeritus at Oregon Health and Science University. I previously served as Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology. I have treated thousands of patients with cancer.

Jeanette Hall
I practice in both Washington state as well as Oregon. I've read the proposed bill, which amends Washington's act to make it clear that patients who request a lethal dose under the act have the right to be told of treatment options for cure and to extend life.

I strongly support this bill, especially due to my experience with a patient named Jeanette Hall. The Oregon and Washington acts apply to patients predicted to have less than six months to live.  This does not necessarily mean that the patients are dying. This is true for two reasons:

Friday, July 4, 2014

Washington’s ‘Death with Dignity’ law imperils the poor

http://realchangenews.org/index.php/site/archives/9122

Last week’s article by an assisted suicide/euthanasia advocate struck me as a bizarre article for Real Change, which advocates for the dignity and self-determination of the poor. (“Terminally ill patients face shortage of right-to-die drug amid controversy over capital punishment,” Real Change, June 18)
Washington’s assisted suicide law was passed in 2008 and went into effect in 2009. This was after a deceptive initiative campaign promised us that “only” the patient would be allowed to take the lethal dose. Our law does not say that anywhere. See Margaret K. Dore, “’Death with Dignity,” What Do We Advise Our Clients?,” King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009, available at https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm.
In Oregon, which has a similar law, there are documented cases of that state’s Medicaid program using the law to steer patients to suicide. In other words, indigent patients are offered suicide in lieu of desired treatments to cure or to extend life. The most well-known cases are Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup.  See: Susan Donaldson James, “Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon,” ABC News, August 6, 2008, at http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5517492&page=1; and “Letter noting assisted suicide raises questions,” KATU TV, July 30, 2008, at http://www.katu.com/news/specialreports/26119539.html  See also the Affidavit of Kenneth Stevens, MD, filed by the Canadian government in Leblanc v. Canada, available at http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/signed-stevens-aff-9-18-12.pdf.
Finally, consider this quote from a March 8, 2012 Jerry Large column in the Seattle Times. He says that at least a couple of his readers suggested euthanasia “if you couldn’t save enough money to see you through your old age.” http://seattletimes.com/text/2017693023.html  For the poor, this would be non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia. 
So much for the dignity and self-determination of the poor.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA *
Seattle

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Assisted suicide is a mistake

http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/opinion/readers/2014/06/11/letter-assisted-suicide-mistake/10348363/

I am a doctor in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I understand that your Legislature is considering taking a similar step.

I was first exposed to this issue in 1982, shortly before my first wife died of cancer. We had just visited her doctor. As we were leaving, he had suggested that she overdose herself on medication.

I still remember the look of horror on her face. She said, “Ken, he wants me to kill myself.”

Our assisted-suicide law was passed in 1997. In 2000, one of my patients was adamant she would use our law. Over three or four visits, I stalled her and ultimately convinced her to be treated instead. Nearly 14 years later, she is thrilled to be alive.

In Oregon, the combination of assisted-suicide legalization and prioritized medical care based on prognosis has created a danger for my patients on the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid).

Helpful treatments are often not covered. The plan will cover the patient’s suicide.

Protect your health care. Tell your legislators to vote “no” on assisted suicide.

Don’t make Oregon’s mistake.

KENNETH STEVENS, M.D.
Sherwood, Ore.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Don’t make Oregon’s mistake

I am a doctor in Oregon, where physician assisted-suicide is legal. I understand that Connecticut’s legislature is considering taking a similar step.
I was first exposed to this issue in 1982, shortly before my first wife died of cancer. We had just visited her doctor. As we were leaving, he had suggested that she overdose herself on medication. I still remember the look of horror on her face. She said, “Ken, he wants me to kill myself.”
Our assisted-suicide law was passed in 1997. In 2000, one of my patients was adamant she would use our law. Over three or four visits, I stalled her and ultimately convinced her to be treated instead. Nearly 14 years later she is thrilled to be alive.
In Oregon, the combination of assisted-suicide legalization and prioritized medical care based on prognosis has created a danger for my patients on the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid). Helpful treatments are often not covered. The plan will cover the patient’s suicide.
For more details, read my affidavit filed on behalf of the Canadian government at http://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/signed-stevens-aff-9-18-12.pdf
Protect your health care. Tell your legislators to vote no on assisted suicide. Don’t make Oregon’s mistake.
Kenneth Stevens
Sherwood, Ore.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oregon's new assisted suicide report: chronic conditions; people with money and more

By Margaret Dore, Esq.
Updated February 19, 2014

Oregon's assisted suicide report for 2013 has been released to the public.[1]  Per the report, the number of deaths from ingesting a lethal dose is low when compared to overall deaths, just 71 out of 32,475 total.[2] The report is nonetheless significant for the following reasons.

Per the report, some people who died from a lethal dose under Oregon's assisted suicide act had chronic conditions such as diabetes.[3] People with these conditions, and other conditions such as cancer, can have years to live.[4]  Jeanette Hall, the woman in the photo, had cancer and was talked out of assisted suicide 13 years ago.[5]  Her doctor convinced her to be treated instead.[6] Legalization, regardless, encourages people with years to live to throw away their lives.

Per the report, most of the people who died from a lethal dose were white, aged 65 or older, and well-educated. See note [7].  People with these attributes are typically well off, i.e., the middle class and above.  The report's introduction implies that their deaths were voluntary, stating that Oregon's act "allows" residents to obtain a lethal dose for self-administration.  There is, however, nothing in the report stating that the specific deaths described in the report were self-administered and/or voluntary.[8] Older well-off people are, regardless, in a vulnerable demographic for abuse and exploitation.  This includes murder.  A 2009 MetLife Mature Market Institute Study states:
"Elders’ vulnerabilities and larger net worth make them a prime target for financial abuse . . . Victims may even be murdered by perpetrators who just want their funds and see them as an easy mark."[9]
Oregon's act was passed in 1997.[10]  Just three later, Oregon's suicide rate for other suicides was "increasing significantly."[11]  Last year, an article in Oregon's largest paper reported:
"New figures show a sharp rise in suicides among middle-aged Americans, and an even bigger increase in Oregon. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows suicides among men and women aged 35-64 increased 49 percent in Oregon from 1999-2010, compared to 28 percent nationally."[12] 
This "significant increase" is consistent with a suicide contagion in which legalizing one type of suicide encouraged other suicides.[13]

The new Oregon report also lists "concerns" as to why the people who died requested the lethal dose.[14]  The data for these concerns is originally generated by the prescribing doctor who uses a check-the-box form developed by suicide proponents.[15] One listed concern is "inadequate pain control or concern about it."[16]  There is, however, no claim that anyone who ingested the lethal dose was actually in pain.[17]

A copy of Oregon's new report can be viewed at this link: http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/year16-2013.pdf  For more information, please see the footnotes below.

Margaret Dore is an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.  She is President of Choice is an Illusion, a human rights organization opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia.  She is one of the attorneys of record in the Montana assisted suicide case, Montanans Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS) v. Montana Board of Medical Examiners.  The case has already resulted in the removal of an official policy statement implying that assisted suicide is legal in Montana.  For more information, please click here.  Funds are needed for an upcoming appeal to the Montana Supreme Court.  Please consider a generous donation to MAAS and/or Choice is an Illusion, by clicking here and/or here. Thank you.

[1]  Oregon's Death with Dignity Act-2013, available at http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/year16-2013.pdf
[2]  Id., Report, page 2, first paragraph and footnote 1.
[3]  Id., Report, page 6 (underlying illness, listing chronic conditions such as "chronic lower respiratory disease" and "other illnesses"). See also page 7, footnote 6 (listing "diabetes mellitus").
[4]  See e.g., Opinion letter of and Dr. Richard Wonderly and Attorney Theresa Schrempp (regarding a young adult with diabetes and other chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS, "each of these patients could live for decades"), available at http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/schrempp_wonderly_opn_ltr1.pdf
[5]  See Affidavit of Ken Stevens MD, available at: http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/signed-stevens-aff-9-18-12-as-filed.pdf  See also, Affidavit of Jeanette Hall, available at:  http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/jeanette-hall-affidavit.pdf
[6]  Id.
[7]  Report at note 1, page 2, last full paragraph.
[8]  Id..As a further explanation, the report page 1 says that Oregon's Act (DWDA) "allows" terminally ill Oregonians to self-administer the lethal dose.  Nothing says that administration "must" be by self-administration.  Self-administration can also be non-voluntary, for example, if the patient was under a threat of harm to a pet, or incapacitated, say due to alcohol. The rest of the report, pages 2-7 talks about the patient's "ingestion" of the lethal dose, which could also be voluntary, non-voluntary or involuntary. For more information about the term "ingestion," see Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009, at https://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm. See also Margaret Dore, "'Death with Dignity': A Recipe for Elder Abuse and Homicide (Albeit not by Name)," Marquette Elder's Advisor, Vol. 11, No. 2, Spring 2010, pp. 391-2, available at http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/dore-marquette-law-review-article.pdf
[9]  MetLife, "Broken Trust: Elders, Family and Finances," 2009, at https://www.metlife.com/mmi/research/broken-trust-elder-abuse.html#findings
[10]  Oregon's Death with Dignity Act Report at note 1, supra, page 2, paragraph 2.
[11]  News Release, "Rising suicide rate in Oregon reaches higher than national average," Christine Stone, Oregon Public Health Information Officer, Oregon Health Authority, September 9, 2010.
http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/rising-suicide-rate-in-oregon.pdf
[12]  David Stabler, "Why Oregon's suicide rate is among highest in the country, " The Oregonian, May 15, 2013, at http://blog.oregonlive.com/living_impact/print.html?entry=/2013/05/why_oregons_suicide_rate_is_am.html
[13]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_contagion
[14]  Report at note 1, page 6 (middle of page)
[15]  The check-the-box form is Question 15 of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act Attending Physician Follow-up Form, page 5, available at http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/attending-physician-follow-up-form.pdf
[16]  Report at note 1, page 6 (middle of page).
[17]  Id, entire report.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dr. Kenneth Stevens and Jeanette Hall in Quebec!


http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/physician-assisted-suicide-encourages-people-143000132.html

Physician-assisted suicide encourages people with years to live to throw away their lives: an Oregon cancer doctor and his patient tell their story and warn Quebecers
MONTREAL, Oct. 25, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice presented a doctor and his patient from Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. 
Dr. Kenneth Stevens is a practicing cancer doctor with more than 40 years' experience. He is also a Professor Emeritus and a former Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, Oregon Health & Sciences University,Portland, Oregon. He has treated thousands of patients with cancer. 
Jeanette Hall, Dr. Stevens' patient, is thrilled to be alive 13 years after he talked her out of "doing" Oregon's law, i.e., killing herself with a lethal dose of barbiturates. 

In 2000, Jeanette was diagnosed with cancer by another doctor and told that she had six months to a year to live. This was without treatment. The other doctor had referred her to Dr. Stevens for radiation and chemotherapy. Jeanette, however, had voted for Oregon's law. She had made a firm decision to go forward with Oregon's law instead.

Dr. Stevens did not believe in assisted suicide. He also believed that Jeanette's prospects for treatment were good. He convinced her to be treated instead of doing Oregon's law.

Dr. Stevens talked about how the mere existence of legal assisted suicide steered Jeanette Hall to suicide. He also talked about how financial incentives in Oregon's government health plan also steer patients to suicide. Dr. Stevens warned that if assisted suicide or euthanasia is legalized in Quebec, then the Quebec government health program could follow a similar pattern, that is, to pay for people to die, but not to live.

Dr. Paul Saba, a family physician and co-president of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice explained how Quebec's proposed euthanasia law would encourage people, including young adults with treatable conditions, to agree to euthanasia and throw away their lives. The Coalition's position against euthanasia is supported by the World Medical Association representing nine million physicians.

For additional information and references including videos visit coalitionmd.org.

SOURCE Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice

Monday, April 22, 2013

Protect Health Care; Keep Assisted Suicide Out of Montana

http://www.ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_03dfa5e3-26fa-588f-8765-b85fc6f81622.html?comment_form=true


April 22, 2013

I was disturbed to see the (April 7) opinion by Eric Kress promoting physician-assisted suicide. I am a cancer doctor with more than 40 years experience in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I am also a professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Oregon Health and Science University.

I first became involved with the assisted-suicide issue shortly before my first wife died of cancer in 1982. We had just made what would be her last visit with her doctor. As we were leaving, he had suggested that she overdose herself on medication. I still remember the look of horror on her face. She said “Ken, he wants me to kill myself.”

In Oregon, the combination of assisted suicide legalization and prioritized medical care based on prognosis has created a danger for my patients on the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid). First, there is a financial incentive for patients to commit suicide: the plan will cover the cost. Second, the plan will not necessarily cover the cost of treatment due to statistical criteria. For example, patients with cancer are denied treatment if they are determined to have “less than 24 months median survival with treatment” and fit other criteria. Some of these patients, if treated, would however have many years to live, as much as five, 10 or 20 years depending on the type of cancer. This is because there are always some people who beat the odds. The plan will cover the cost of their suicides.

In Oregon, the mere presence of legal assisted-suicide steers patients to suicide even when there is no coverage issue. One of my patients was adamant she would use the law. I convinced her to be treated instead. Twelve years later she is thrilled to be alive.

Don’t make Oregon’s mistake.

Kenneth Stevens, MD,
Sherwood, Ore.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Those who are not dying can be lured to assisted suicide

http://bostonglobe.com/opinion/letters/2012/11/02/those-who-are-not-dying-can-lured-assisted-suicide/mYhNV8k6hWseAFwSxdCnIL/story.html

I am a cancer doctor in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal. Oregon's assisted-suicide law applies to patients predicted to have less than six months to live. This does not necessarily mean that such patients are dying.

In 2000, I had a cancer patient named Jeanette Hall. Another doctor had given her a terminal diagnosis of six months to a year to live.  This was based on her not being treated for cancer. At our first meeting, she told me that she did not want to be treated, and that she wanted to opt for what our law allowed - to kill herself with a lethal dose of barbiturates.

I did not and do not believe in assisted suicide. I informed her that her cancer was treatable and that her prospects were good. But she wanted "the pills."  She had made up her mind, but she continued to see me. On the third or fourth visit, I asked her about her family and learned that she had a son. I asked her how he would feel if she went through with her plan. Shortly after that, she agreed to be treated, and her cancer was cured. 

Several years later she saw me in a restaurant and said, "Dr. Stevens, you saved my life."

For her, the mere presence of legal assisted suicide had steered her to suicide.

I urge the citizens of Massachusetts to vote no on Question 2.

Dr. Kenneth Stevens

Sherwood, Ore

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Persons Living With HIV/AIDS: Is This What You Want? To be Just Like Us?

By Margaret Dore, Esq.

Some HIV/AIDS groups have endorsed Ballot Question 2, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide in Massachusetts via a proposed act.  This post suggests that these groups and/or persons living with HIV/AIDS should give the issue a second look. 

1.  "Terminal" Does Not Mean "Dying" 

The proposed act applies to persons with a "terminal disease," defined in terms of less than six months to live.[1]  In Oregon, where there is a similar act, the six months to live is determined without requiring treatment.[2] 

In other words, a person living with HIV/AIDS, who is doing well, but who is dependent on treatment to live, is "terminal" for the purpose of assisted suicide eligibility. 

2.  The Significance of a Terminal Label

Once someone is labeled "terminal," an easy justification can be made that his or her treatment should be denied in favor of someone more deserving.  In Oregon, "terminal" patients are not only denied treatment, they are offered assisted suicide instead.  In a recent affidavit, Oregon doctor Ken Stevens states:

"9.  Under the Oregon Health Plan, there is . . .  a financial incentive towards suicide because the Plan will not necessarily pay for a patient’s treatment.  For example, patients with cancer are denied treatment if they have a "less than 24 months median survival with treatment" and fit other criteria. . . . 

12. All such persons . . .  will . . . be denied treatment. Their suicides under Oregon’s assisted suicide act will be covered."[3]

Dr. Stevens concludes:

"14. The Oregon Health Plan is a government health plan administered by the State of Oregon. If assisted suicide is legalized in [your jurisdiction], your government health plan could follow a similar pattern. If so, the plan will pay for a patient to die, but not to live."[4]

3.  Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup

In Oregon, the most well known persons denied treatment and offered suicide are Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup.[5]  Neither saw this event as a celebration of their "choice."  Wagner said: "I'm not ready to die."[6]  Stroup said: "This is my life they’re playing with."[7] 

4.  Proposals for Expansion

I live in Washington State, where assisted suicide is legal under an act passed in 2008.[8]  Four years later, there have already been proposals to expand our act to non-terminal people.[9]  Moreover, this year, there was a Seattle Times column suggesting euthanasia as a solution for people unable to afford care, which would be involuntary euthanasia for those persons who want to live.[10]

Prior to our law's being passed, I never heard anyone talk like this.

Is this what you want?

To be just like us?

Legal assisted suicide puts anyone with a significant health condition at risk of being steered to suicide.  For other reasons to vote against assisted suicide, please click here for talking points.  I hope that AIDS groups and people living with AIDS reconsider any support of Ballot Question No. 2.  Thank you.
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Margaret Dore is a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. She is also President of Choice is an Illusion, a non-profit corporation opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia.  Ms. Dore has been licensed to practice law since 1986. She is a former Law Clerk to the Washington State Supreme Court. She has several published court cases and many published scholarly articles. Her viewpoint is that people should be in control of their own fates, but that assisted suicide laws do not deliver. This year, she had an editorial published in the NY Times: "Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse." For more information see www.margaretdore.com and www.choiceillusion.org