MONTREAL, Oct. 27, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - 2 days prior to "a vote in
principal" of Bill 52 at the Quebec National Assembly, the Coalition of
Physicians for Social Justice invited an Oregon physician, Dr Kenneth
Stevens, who described how Oregon's physician assisted suicide law had
caused hundreds of physician assisted suicides over the past fifteen
years. He also described how if the current Bill 52 on euthanasia is
passed in Quebec, hundreds of Quebecers will die annually at the hands
Dr Kenneth Stevens is a leading cancer specialist 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, and Portland, Oregon. He has treated thousands of patients
According to Oregon law, patients must be considered to have less than 6
months to live. Dr Stevens stated that the ability to diagnose and
predict the survival of people at the "end of life" with months to
years to live is inaccurate. Many patients who are considered
"terminal" or "end of life" are not necessarily dying.
Dr Stevens described one patient in his 40's who was diagnosed in 2004
with advanced cancer with 13 tumors in his liver and more than 70
tumors throughout his lung. The original biopsy showed "adenocarcinoma
of the liver." He was told that he would probably be dead in 6 weeks.
After the bad news, he sold off many of his assets and bought his
burial plot. When he realized that he was feeling well he sought second
opinions. After consulting other pathologists he was finally told that
the condition was "epithelioid hemangioendothelioma" which can be
chronic and not fatal. Now 9 years later he is doing well and happy to
be alive without any cancer treatments.
Dr Stevens described how hundreds of so-called "hopeless cases" with
treatment can go on to survive many profitable years or be cured.
Hospital administrators and doctors would have abandoned and not
treated these people. Four other of his patients were discussed. One
was a 30 year old woman with liver cancer which had metastasized to her
chest and was told "she did not have long to live." With combined
radiation/chemotherapy she lived over 20 years with quality life. An 18
year old college man with glioblastoma multiforme (the most malignant
brain cancer) was treated. He graduated from college, law school,
passed the Oregon bar exam, married had 2 children, was elected to city
council and survived over 20 years. Another 50 year old woman with
advanced lymphoma, was bedridden and not able to stand or walk. She
received radiation treatments with total resolution of her disease. All
these patients were treated despite "poor prognosis" and other
physicians questioning the reasonability of such "aggressive and futile
treatment" for these very severe conditions.
According to Dr Stevens; other people are encouraged to give up on care
because of the existence of the assisted suicide law. The message of
the proponents of assisted suicide is that "doctors can do a better job
of killing you than caring for you."
Present at the conference and giving her testimony was a patient of Dr
Stevens, Jeanette Hall. She was diagnosed in 2000 with lower bowel
cancer and told that she had six months to a year to live. She
considered chemotherapy and radiation therapy futile. She asked for
assisted suicide as provided by the state of Oregon. Dr Stevens
disagreed with her decision for assisted suicide and was able to
convince her to undergo radiation and chemotherapy. She is now thrilled
to be alive 13 years after undergoing cancer therapy and not killing
herself with a lethal dose of barbiturates.
Dr. Stevens believes that people who are not dying are being lured into
assisted suicide. They are misguided to believe that their medical
condition is irreversible and discouraged to undergo any treatment that
is "overaggressive and futile." Dr Steven's states that "overaggressive
and futile therapy" is a relative term—and can only be defined in
hindsight. If a patient undergoes therapy for a very severe condition
and survives—such therapy is not overaggressive and futile because it
was successful. People are being denied therapies that could prolong
and save their lives. Dr Stevens also talked about how financial
incentives in Oregon's government health plan steers patients to
suicide. In Oregon, the government insurance sets limits on cancer
care. 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 limit coverage for cancer care and
thus encourage euthanasia.
Dr. Paul Saba, a family physician and co-president of the Coalition of
Physicians for Social Justice explained how Québec's proposed
euthanasia law would encourage people, including young adults 18 and
over with treatable conditions such as depression, chronic lung and
heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia to agree
to euthanasia and end 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.
Image with caption: "Mrs Jeanette Hall (CNW Group/Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131027_C7513_PHOTO_EN_32619.jpg
Image with caption: "Dr Kenneth Stevens (CNW Group/Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131027_C7513_PHOTO_EN_32621.jpg
SOURCE: Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice
For further information:
Dr. Paul Saba