Ireland Medical Group Removes Prohibition Against “Deliberate Killing of a Patient

The Irish Medical Council (IMC) has removed a prohibition against “intentionally killing a patient” from its most up-to-date guide to professional conduct and ethics.

Where the eighth editionissued in 2016, in its section on End of Life Care contains the explicit prohibition that “You shall not participate in the intentional killing of a patient”, the ninth edition of Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners, issued at the beginning of the year, contained no such ban on the intentional killing of patients.

In contrast, there is the latest General Medical Council in the UK specific guidance for end of life care, stating that “This guidance takes into account, and is consistent with, current law across the UK, including… the law prohibiting killing (including euthanasia) and assisted suicide” .

According to IMCThe Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners “aims to support doctors by providing principles-based guidance on how best to work with patients.”

It added “The Guide is also useful for patients as it clarifies the standards of care they should expect from their doctor”.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia are currently illegal in Ireland

A euthanasia and assisted suicide bill is introduced in 2020 in Ireland but it failed to pass the legislature.

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In January 2023, the Irish Government formed a Joint Committee on Assisted Dying, which formed to “consider and make recommendations for legislative and policy change related to a statutory right to assist a person to end his life (assisted dying) and a statutory right to receive such assistance”.

Doctors in Ireland are largely opposed to the introduction of assisted suicide

The IMC’s move towards allowing assisted suicide and euthanasia is clearly out of line with other medical bodies in Ireland. The Royal College of Physicians in Ireland (RCPI) has expressed its opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia in the latest position statement in the matter and repeated that opposition at the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying last year.

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland is also contradicting on the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Study finds that “desire to die” usually “passes”

In 2021, a study which surveyed the attitudes and opinions of Irish physicians found that only 14% of physicians surveyed were in favor of introducing euthanasia in Ireland.

Only 17% supported physician-assisted suicide. The majority opposes the legalization of euthanasia (67.2%) and physician-assisted suicide (56.3%).

A 2021 study in Ireland found that nearly three-quarters of people over 50 who had previously expressed a wish to die no longer had such a wish two years later. The Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA), surveyed 8,174 people over the age of 50 and found that 3.5% expressed a wish to die in Wave 1 of the study.

However, as the report states: “Seventy-two percent of these participants no longer reported a desire to die when reassessed 2 years later”.

Researchers behind the study from Trinity College Dublin found that “wishing to die” in older people is often “transient” and is associated with depression and feelings of sadness.

Furthermore, TILDA found that 60% of those who reported wanting to die also had “clinically significant” symptoms of depression while half had been diagnosed with depression.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said, “The removal of the outright ban against doctors deliberately ending the lives of their patients in the latest Irish Medical Council guidelines is alarming. It seems like a fait accompli, the IMC appears to be paving the way for a change in the law on assisted suicide and euthanasia in Ireland”.

“IMC seems to have learned nothing from other jurisdictions that have legalized assisted suicide or euthanasia, nor have they learned anything from research in their own country”.

LifeNews Note: Republished with permission from Right to Life UK.

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