Medical Council chief downplays removing prohibition on ‘killing patients’

The Medical Council has defended the removal of an instruction not to deliberately kill a patient from its latest ethics code claiming the move had nothing to do with legislative proposals for ‘assisted dying’. However, the move does mean that if the Government does legislate for euthanasia, nothing in the new ethics code will prevent doctors from using their medical skill to kill willing patients.

The Council’s president, Dr Suzanne Crowe, told the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying that the change, has been “misinterpreted,” adding that it “was not the Medical Council taking a stance or paving the way for any possible future change [to the law]”.

“The removal of this sentence does not diminish the law,” she said, adding that the council “does not have a position” on euthanasia.

The guide is “not a legal code. It’s principles-based guidance,” she told Independent Senator Rónán Mullen, who had asked why such a substantial and long-standing section had been removed, something which could be seen as “convenient” by those advocating for Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD).

“There was no specific consultation in relation to this issue,” she conceded, noting that the council’s ethics committee had proposed the removal, which the council then ratified.