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2 Winnipeg Doctors Refuse to Participate in Euthanasia, Even at Cost of Their Jobs

Steve Weatherbe : Oct 9, 2015

"There is a very explicit commitment to not take the life of a patient. It's distressing, it's disturbing and saddens me it has come to this."

(Winnipeg)—Two long-practicing Winnipeg doctors have said they would reject any requirement they assist suicide, even if it meant being kicked out of their profession. Meanwhile, the head of a Christian doctors group says any such requirement would violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Doctors Mark Kristjanson and Larry Rados are speaking out because the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons is seeking input for a new policy on assisted suicide and euthanasia. The policy is being formulated as the moment of truth imposed by the Supreme Court of Canada approaches when the Criminal Code provisions against both measures will be nullified.

"The Hippocratic Oath is the foundation of medicine. And part of that tradition explicitly regards the patient, one's fellow human being, as sacred," Dr. Kristjanson told the CBC. "There is a very explicit commitment to not take the life of a patient. It's distressing, it's disturbing and saddens me it has come to this."

It has come to this because of a group of academics at Western and Dalhousie universities, calling themselves "The Conscience Project." This group has persuaded the colleges of physicians and surgeons in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta to require doctors to refer patients requesting procedures that violate their consciences to other doctors they know will perform them.

Larry Worthen, head of the Christian Medical and Dental Association of Canada (CMDS), told LifeSiteNews that any regulatory college that required doctors to either perform or refer against their consciences would "absolutely be in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

Earlier this year the CMDS joined with the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians Societies and the Canadian Physicians for Life to challenge the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons in court.

"And we are looking at challenging the Saskatchewan College," said Worthen.

Freedom of Conscience is one of the fundamentals of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, said Worthen, and the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled "there must be a very compelling reason to restrict freedom of conscience, and whatever restriction must be kept to a minimum."

The Saskatchewan and Ontario colleges have recently followed the template provided by the Conscience Project in requiring doctors to perform abortions in a medical emergency despite their moral objections if no one else is available, and at all other times to refer patients seeking abortions to doctors who will do them. Ontario has applied the same formula to euthanasia. (Photo via Pixabay)

But Dr. Rados says referring means recommending and supporting. "I will take the view that a referral to another doctor would be equivalent to a recommendation for the procedure. Why would I make a referral for assisted suicide if I don't think it is in the patient's best interest?"

But the Conscience Project believes doctors' consciences are trumped by patients' rights though the latter have no recognition in the Charter. Patients' rights are now ensconced in doctors' ethics codes in Saskatchewan and Ontario. Dr. Rados believes this reduces doctors to the role of waiters in restaurants. In fact, they are sworn to protect their patients' best interests, sometimes in spite of the patients' wishes. "Every doctor that has been around for a while knows there are times when you say no. We say no when a patient asks for narcotics and doesn't need them. We should be allowed to say no in this case as well with regard to referring patients.

"This isn't why I or some or my colleagues went into medicine," Rados added. "It's to wear the…"

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