The Medical Council is the statutory body which is responsible for the regulation of doctors within the Republic of Ireland. Its purpose is to protect the public by promoting and ensuring the highest standards among doctors. One of the means by which the Medical Council achieves this, is by providing appropriate guidance on matters relating to professional conduct and ethics for registered medical practitioners.

Representatives of the Medical Council have recently addressed the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health in the context of the introduction of legal abortion in Ireland.

In the current edition of the Medical Council’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics, section 48 provides doctors with guidance in respect of abortion and section 49 puts forward guidance for conscientious objection from a doctor. However, both sections 48 and 49 predate the result of the 2018 abortion referendum.

Addressing the Committee, Dr Suzanne Crowe, a member of the Medical Council, confirmed that the Medical Council has agreed to establish a Working Group to review the 8th edition of Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners following the referendum result with regard to the guidance in place with regard to abortion and conscientious objection. The proposed guidance will in due course be brought to the full Medical Council to consider.

The Medical Council Opening Statement to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health can be viewed here.