(LifeSiteNews) — The Irish Medical Council has removed language explicitly prohibiting the murder of patients from its most recently updated manual of guidelines.
In the ninth edition of its “Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners,” the Irish Medical Council, which oversees more than 20,000 doctors nationwide, removed a provision under the document’s “End of Life” section stating that physicians may “not participate in the deliberate killing of a patient.”
Another line informing physicians that the care they provide would “usually” be given with the intention “to prolong a patient’s life” was also scrapped, Irish outlet Gript pointed out.
The language banning the “deliberate killing” of patients under the care of Irish doctors had been in the manual since the seventh edition in 2009 and was also included in the eighth edition released in 2016, Catholic News Agency (CNA) noted.
The new guidelines took effect January 1.
Live Action pointed out that the change comes just five years after Ireland legalized abortion, a shocking move in the traditionally Catholic country. The Irish Medical Council had updated the eighth edition of the guidelines to reflect the legislative shift.
Despite the changes in the medical guidelines, however, Ireland has not yet legalized euthanasia, even though some U.S. states and numerous European countries have done so in recent years.
A legislative proposal several years ago that would have permitted euthanasia, known as the “Dying with Dignity Bill,” met with serious pushback from Catholic bishops and ultimately failed to make it past Parliament, CNA reported. The country’s biggest physicians group, The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, similarly came out publicly against the practice last year.
Regardless, the decision by the Irish Medical Council to scrap language explicitly banning the homicide of patients has sparked concern about what changes may lie in Ireland’s future.
The Iona Institute, a conservative Christian think tank, responded to the news by charging that the Irish Medical Council is proposing “the opposite” of “medical ethics.”
“The new code is a gigantic step backwards from an ethical point of view,” the group said. “What has taken place represents a seismic shift in true medical ethics that date back to Hippocrates in Ancient Greece.”
“No longer telling doctors that they cannot take part in the deliberate killing of patients is not medical ethics, it is the opposite,” they said. “It is shameful that the Medical Council has gone down this path, clearly with the blessing of the Minister for Health. Hopefully the doctors of Ireland will push back against this incredibly retrograde step.”
It remains to be seen whether the Irish Medical Council will change its guidance or whether its new guidelines reflect an imminent shift toward the allowance for assisted suicide.
So far, five countries in Europe have legalized the practice: Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Spain. Austria, Finland, and Norway allow a form of “passive euthanasia.” The practice is also legal in Canada, Colombia, and Australia.
In the United States, 10 states as well as the District of Columbia currently permit euthanasia. Oregon became the first state to legalize the practice in 1994.
Meanwhile, at the federal level, the Biden administration has proposed rescinding federal regulations that provide conscience protections for professionals who do not want to engage in “abortion, sterilization, and certain other health services,” “assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing,” and for “managed care organizations with moral or religious objections to counseling or referral for certain services.”
This year in Canada, people with mental illnesses will become eligible for so-called “Medical Assistance in Dying,” a development that has added to serious concerns from critics who say the practice smacks of eugenics.