An Oregon doctor: « Quebec’s proposed euthanasia law is a license to kill »

Jeanette Hall, is thrilled to be alive 13 years after Dr Kenneth Stevens,  a practicing cancer doctor with more than 40 years’ experience, 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.

Jeanette Hall shares her story with Dr Paul Saba

Dr Kenneth Stevens is 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.

In a press conference this morning in Montreal, Dr. Stevens spoke about how the mere existence of legal assisted suicide steered Jeanette Hall to suicide.  He also discussed how financial incentives in Oregon’s government health plan steer patients to suicide.

Dr. Stevens offered a warning to Quebecers, and any place looking to legalize Euthanasia:

…if assisted suicide or euthanasia is legalized in Quebec, for example, 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 believes that Québec’s proposed euthanasia law will 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.

2 réflexions sur “An Oregon doctor: « Quebec’s proposed euthanasia law is a license to kill »

  1. These are all reliable sources :

    1) The abuse :

    In its report of August 25 2009, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations denounces the extent of euthanasia and assisted suicide in the Netherlands and highlights the gap that exist between the reality and the safeguards provided by the law of 2002 which decriminalized voluntary euthanasia :

    « The Committee remains concerned at the extent of euthanasia and assisted suicides in the State party. Under the law on the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide, although a second physician must give an opinion, a physician can terminate a patient’s life without any independent review by a judge or magistrate to guarantee that this decision was not the subject of undue influence or misapprehension ».

    Source : United Nations, Human rights committee, Considerations of reports submitted by states parties under article 40 of the covenant : concluding observations of the human rights committee, ninety-sixth session, Netherlands, 25 august 2009, par.7
    (CCPR/C/NLD/CO/4).

    2) Link between the economy (finance) and the legalization of euthanasia :

    According to Jean-Louis Baudouin, a former judge of the Court of Appeal of Quebec, « the explosion of health care costs and the resulting economic pressure may favor euthanasia programs for certain categories of people more vulnerable, whose preservation compromises the finances of the state »(our translation). A large part of
    this explosion of health care costs will come from the ageing population of
    Quebec. According to Ménard 2005 report on the sustainability of the health
    care system, the ageing of Quebec’s population is « the third fastest of
    industrialized countries after Japan and Italy ». The report adds :

    « The age groups called to grow most quickly are the ones for which the use of social services and health cares is the highest. The resources per capita dedicated to the
    elderly aged 65 or more are about 3.7 times higher than the average of age
    groups. For people aged 85 or more, it is 7.7 times more per capita than the
    average population. The concentration of health care and social services
    spending at the end of life is particularly obvious for the services mainly
    offered to the elderly in loss of autonomy (…) which costs drastically
    increase from age 70″(our translation).

    Robert Evans, a professor of economics at the University of British Columbia, recognizes that non-voluntary euthanasia would be a way to improve the country’s finances, but believe that it would NOT BE THE BEST WAY:

    « I would not suggest that the best way to improve the fiscal situation of Canada is to
    introduce a non-voluntary program of euthanasia for people over the age of 70 ».

    Source: Senate of Canada, Special Senate Committee on Aging , IMPLICATIONS OF AN AGING SOCIETY IN CANADA, Testimony of Mr. Robert Evans, December 10 2007, p.2: 34 , online: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/392/agei/02eva-e.htm?Language=E&Parl=39&Ses=2&comm_id=600

    In its predictions and foreseeable scenarios for the years 2007 to 2036, the  » Development, Concepts and Doctrine Center  » ( DCDC ) of the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom stresses that euthanasia of the elderly could become the
    political instrument to serve the young to reduce the economic burden of care
    for the elderly. I quote:

    « Declining youth populations in Western societies could become increasingly dissatisfied with their economically burdensome ‘baby-boomer’ elders, among whom much of societies’ wealth would be concentrated. Resentful at a generation whose values appear to be out of step with tightening resource constraints, the young might seek a return to an order provided by more conservative values and structures. This could lead to a civic renaissance, with strict penalties for those failing to fulfil their social obligations. IT MIGHT ALSO OPEN THE WAY TO POLICIES WHICH PERMIT EUTHANASIA AS A MEANS TO REDUCE THE BURDEN OF CARE FOR THE ELDERLY ».

    Source : United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, Development, Concepts and Doctrine Center, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme : 2007-2036, 3d ed., 2007 à la p.79, en ligne : http://www.cuttingthroughthematrix.com/articles/strat_trends_23jan07.pdf

    Japan is considering euthanasia as a solution to the economic burden posed by population aging on society.

    See the following article : Annabel Claix , « A Japanese minister asks its citizens to die ,
    and quickly » (January 22 2013) , online:
    http://www.ibtimes.com/japans-finance-minister-suggests-elderly-should-die-quickly-ease-health-care-burdens-1031418

    Already in 1958, Glanville Williams , who was vice-president of the « Voluntary Euthanasia Society » and regarded as « Britain’s foremost scholar of criminal
    law », stated :

    « Kamisar expresses distress at a concluding remark in my book in which I advert to the
    possibility of old people becoming an overwhelming burden on mankind. I share
    his feeling that there are profoundly disturbing possibilities here ; and if I
    had been merely a propagandist, intent upon securing agreement for a specific
    measure of law reform, I should have done wisely to have omitted all reference
    to this subject. Since, however, I am merely an academic writer, trying to
    bring such intelligence as I have to bear on moral and social issues, I deemed
    the topic too important and threatening to leave without a word ».

    Source: Glanville Williams, « « Mercy- Killing » Legislation – A Rejoinder » (1958) 43
    (1) Minn . L. Rev . 1 p.11 .

    Eric Folot
    Lawyer and bioethicist

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