New law covers issues on mercy killing, implants, gender reassignment surgery among others


DUBAI – The UAE has recently imposed a wide-ranging new law that covers medical practices in the country.

The Medical Responsibility Law, decreed in August by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, includes a ban on mercy killing, cloning and other medical procedures.

Here’s a guide to the law.


No mercy killing

It is illegal to switch off life support machines, even with a dying patient’s consent or with the consent of guardians or relatives, unless in cases of respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest or brain death. Violators will face ten years in jail.

No human clones

Creating human clones is illegal in the UAE. The same goes for the reproduction of human cells and tissue. Violators face up to six months in jail and a fine ranging between Dh100,000 to Dh200,000.

No human clinical research subjects

The law also bans using human beings as medical research subjects without written approval from authorities. The fine is up to six months in prison and fines of up to Dh200,000.

Gender reassignment surgery

The law allows gender reassignment surgery if it is part of a treatment for gender dysphoria in transgender people, as advised by a medical commission to be set up for this purpose.

Implants of artificial organs

The law permits implanting artificial organs into a human to replace a natural organ so that the patient will return to a healthy condition. 

Fertility treatments

Couples who find it difficult to conceive naturally are allowed to try medically assisted reproduction or biological procedures to treat infertility. 

Birth control

The law allows couples to use birth control to plan the timing of pregnancy. Preventing pregnancy, however, can only be permitted if advised by at least three specialist doctors that pregnancy and giving birth endanger the life of the mother and after a written consent from the wife and informing the husband. 

Abortion is banned

Abortion or termination of pregnancy is illegal in the UAE, unless advised by three specialits to save the mother’s life and all other medical methods are exhausted.

Termination of pregnancy

Termination of pregnancy is also permitted due to incurable fetal abnormality, provided that abortion is requested by the couples, pregnancy is less than 120 days, fetal abnormality is proven by gynecologists, paediatrics and medical imaging specialists.

No liability for doctors

Under the new law, doctors will not be held liable for a patient’s self-inflicted harm, or if a patient refuses to take medicine or ignores medical instructions.

Non-prosecution of doctors

Doctors will not be liable to prosecution if the treatment or the method adopted is in keeping with recognised medical standards.

Treatment without patient’s consent not allowed

Doctors are not allowed to treat patients without their consent unless in emergency cases that require urgent intervention and if onsent by the patient is impossible.


Doctors may not divulge a patient’s secrets unless with the patient’s consent. However, doctors are permitted to share a patient’s secret to prevent a crime from taking place or as a testimony in court.


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