Oregon doctor: My Personal Story – The importance of trust between patient and doctor

by Dr Kenneth R. Stephens, Jr

Dr Stephens has 49 years of experience as a cancer doctor in Oregon. He writes that he first became involved with assisted suicide in 1982 “shortly before my first wife, Shannon, died of cancer.”

We had just made what would be her last visit with her doctor. As we were leaving the office, he said that he could provide her with an extra-large dose of pain medication. She said she did not need it because her pain was under control. As I helped her to the car, she said “Ken, he wants me to kill myself.” 

It devastated her that her doctor, her trusted doctor, would suggest that she kill herself. Six days later, she peacefully died in our home without pain, and with dignity. I learned how assisted suicide destroys the trust between patient and doctor. 

Dr Stephens gives 15 reasons why the Oregon experience demonstrates that assisted suicide is unreliable, including:

Pain is Not the Issue

Both opponents and proponents of legalization of assisted suicide agree that pain is not the issue. Pain can be controlled. Uncontrolled pain in the terminally ill rarely occurs. In Oregon only a very small minority or patients dying of assisted suicide chose it because of fear of pain in the future. This was not because they were having current pain.

Assisted Suicide is Suicide – Beware of Deceitful & Dishonest Euphemisms

The strategies and methods of pro assisted suicide organizations are to use euphemisms. But assisted suicide is suicide. Both the Connecticut State Superior Court (June 2, 2010) and the New Mexico Supreme Court (June 30, 2016) have clarified that so-called “physician aid in dying” is assisted suicide and euthanasia. 

Coterie of Insiders Runs the Program
The Compassion & Choices organization are associated with three-fourths of Oregon’s assisted suicide deaths. In Oregon in 2009, 57 of the 59 assisted suicide deaths were their clients. They know and control the information released to the public.

From 2001 to 2007, 109 doctors (1% of Oregon doctors) wrote 271 fatal prescriptions for assisted suicide. Three doctors wrote 62 of those prescriptions (23% of prescriptions). Seventeen doctors wrote 165 of the 271 prescriptions (61% of prescriptions). 

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