Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Winnipeg Manitoba doctors Mark Kristjanson and Larry Rados will not participate or refer for euthanasia or assisted suicide. According to CBC News:
Kristjanson has 30 years experience in family medicine, palliative care, working with the disabled and oncology.
Dr Mark Kristjanson
Kristjanson believes the number of doctors who are promoting assisted suicide across the country are in the minority. He believes those doctors want to see all physicians obliged to at least refer a patient for assisted suicide if they don't want to participate.
But that is something neither Kristjanson or Dr. Larry Rados are prepared to do.
Rados is an acute care doctor with more than 25 years experience. He says assisted suicide is clearly at odds with his conscience and the Hippocratic Oath to not cause harm. And if a patient requests it, he says he won't refer that patient to another doctor.
"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?"
Rados says some people seem to take the view that a doctor should be a glorified waiter in a restaurant who should take a patient's order, no matter what they ask.
"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," Rados says.
Kristjanson says he's not prepared to budge.
"I wouldn't quit voluntarily," he says. "But if the College takes a firm stance that I must refer to another colleague, I still would not make a referral. If that would risk losing my license, that would be a risk I would take. Although that would not be the route I would prefer."
Rados says he too will follow his conscience and accept the consequences.
"This isn't why I or some or my colleagues went into medicine. It's to wear the white coat of the healer not the black coat of hastening someone's death. I would subject myself to whatever discipline that is necessary to follow my conscience," Rados says.
Both are hoping it won't come to that.
"The College has always carved out space for conscientious objection. It has always been very good about respecting the right or ability of a physician to practice within the bounds of their own conscience and to not stray into an ethically problematic territory," says Kristjanson.
If legalized, physicians will be pressured to kill their patients or refer their patients to be killed, by euthanasia or assisted suicide. At the recent CMA national meeting 63% of the physicians stated that they would not participate in assisted dying while only 29% stated that they would not refer for assisted dying.
If euthanasia is going to be imposed on Canadian society, physicians must have the right to opt out.