As the Deputy will be aware, section 22 of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 deals with conscientious objection by members of medical staff in relation to the provision of termination of pregnancy services.
This section states that where he/she has a conscientious objection, a medical practitioner, nurse or midwife shall not be obliged to carry out, or participate in the carrying out, a termination of pregnancy.
In the event of a doctor, nurse or midwife having a difficulty in undertaking a required medical procedure, he or she will have a duty to make arrangements for the transfer of the woman’s care to a colleague.
The Act makes it clear that conscientious objection cannot be invoked in an emergency situation, when the risk to a pregnant woman’s life or health is immediate.
Conscientious objection is limited to persons involved in the delivery of the treatment only and does not extend to any other persons, or to institutions.
Section 49 of the most recent version of the Medical Council’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Professionals, published in August 2019, reiterates these provisions.