Legal issues

5. As Medical practice makes clear, doctors must keep up to date with and follow the law relevant to their work. For example, the Equality Act 2010 and parallel legislation in Northern Ireland prohibit doctors from discriminating, directly or indirectly, against others, or from harassing them, on grounds of a protected characteristic,4 when they provide medical services. In addition, some legislation:

a. specifically entitles doctors to exercise a conscientious objection to providing certain treatments or procedures

b. allows or prohibits particular treatments or procedures.

6. The law does not require doctors to provide treatments or procedures that they have assessed as not being clinically appropriate or not of overall benefit to the patient.

7. The legal annex provides information about some relevant legislation. You should seek legal advice if you are unsure whether, by exercising a conscientious objection, you are contravening the law in the country where you work.

Endnotes for Personal beliefs and medical practice