He said implementation of these laws can create a niche for physicians who make lethal treatments a kind of specialty.
"There was a report from a state agency where from 2001 to 2007, 109 doctors --which is about 1 percent of Oregon doctors-- wrote 271 fatal prescriptions. Of those 271 fatal prescriptions, about a fourth of them where written by only three doctors," he said.
He also addressed the inherent danger of laws supporting physician assisted suicide wherein the expense of treatment becomes a factor in determining which care should be available to which patients. He pointed out that the elderly, infirm and disabled come under threat in this way.
"For 2,500 years physicians have withstood the allure of promoting death. We have cared for the weak and the outcast when others have turned away," Dr. Stevens said.
He presented the case of a woman denied experimental chemotherapy treatment under her health plan, but approved for assisted suicide.
Dr. Stevens told The Pilot after his talk that the case in favor of physician assisted suicide downplays clear definitions, eschews medical science, and damages doctor patient relationships in pursuit of an ideology.
"It is an ideology that a patient should be able to take their own life with a doctor's assistance," he said.
"The legalization of assisted suicide is anti-science. It is against medical care. It's against scientific medicine," Dr. Stevens said.
Father Shawn Carey, director of the Archdiocese of Boston's Deaf Apostolate, said Dr. Stevens point that assisted suicide laws could endanger people with disabilities struck him.
"Often people with disabilities do feel oppressed by the majority, people who tell them that you can't, people who tell them that your life is worthless. Coming here to hear this presentation has helped me gather more facts so that when I do teach, and when I do preach, that I can successfully minister to the community and tell them that we need to rally together," he said.
"We all have to be educated. We all have to make sure we understand the full import of what is happening," said Bishop John A. Dooher, who also attended the talk.
"We all have to begin to educate ourselves about not just the simple issues, but all the issues around it," he said.
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