Medical ethics in Ireland: a decade of change

Hastings Cent Rep. Jan-Feb 1991;21(1):18-21.


PIP: The 80s was a time of change in Ireland as medical ethics went from academic obscurity to an issue of open public debate. The Irish Constitution specifically mentions the rights of the unborn: in such a context the value of human rights for the living is almost impossible when fetal rights are absolute. The European Economic Community (EEC) has been pressuring Ireland to comply with provisions in their treaty that gives women equal rights, rights to abortion, and equal human rights. Currently Ireland is the only country in the EEC that prohibits abortion. Even counseling at health clinics that refer women to Britain for abortion services is forbidden. Part of the problem is the doctor-patient relationship. In Ireland the medical profession is based on the paternalistic institution common to other professions. The result is that there is no common context of trust between doctors and patients, which is essential if the relationship is to work. The result of this lack of trust is a high number of litigations and a negative feeling toward doctors. The medical profession in Ireland must change the way it trains its doctors so that they can have a relationship that involves trust with their patient.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal / history
  • Bioethical Issues*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Ethics Committees, Clinical
  • Ethics Committees, Research
  • Ethics, Medical / history*
  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Ireland
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Paternalism
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Pregnancy
  • Research Subjects