Minnesota general surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Horak was fired from the hospital where he was employed for 16 years after telling a Fergus Falls school district board meeting that parents should be permitted to make healthcare decisions for their children, the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday.
The regional health provider, Lake Region Healthcare, confirmed Horak no longer works there, but it did not specify the reason.
"We sincerely appreciate Dr. Horak's 16 years of service to our patients and our organizations, and we wish him the best as he transitions his practice from here," Lake Region Healthcare CEO Kent Mattson reportedly said, although he did not clarify whether the doctor's comments at the school board were connected to his termination.
At a rally Monday supporting him, Horak said, "at the request of the parents in this community as a professional physician, I spoke to the Fergus Falls board meeting exercising my right to freedom of speech," KVRR reported.
"Nine days later I was asked to resign or be terminated, I chose to be terminated," said Horak.
The board meeting was focused on the school district's 10-day mandatory mask policy, with Horak expressing the opinion that it should be the parents' choice whether or not to send their children to school with a mask on, according to the Washington Examiner.
"We live in America where freedoms are held close," Horak told the Wahpeton Daily News. "I am a man who believes individuals have the right to do their research and decide what is best for them and their children when it comes to their health. I don't believe governments or institutions should dictate that. It's a position I've always have taken. And when the science doesn't make sense to me, it's hard for me to go along."
At the rally, Fargo residents showed up with signs in support of Horak and chanted slogans such as "fight for freedom!"
One resident, Dawn Mayo, said, "I don't think people should be punished with losing their job for exercising their right of free speech."
Another person attending the rally, family friend Rick Bolinsee, said, "We're very proud of him for standing up and losing his job. [This] tells you something about the man."
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