Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to hear midwives’s case on 11 November

The Greater Glasgow Health Board has appealed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to overturn a ruling that two midwives cannot be compelled to participate in abortions by delegating, supervising and supporting those involved in the procedures.  The case is to be heard 11 November, 2014.

The midwives’ legal costs have been in excess of £250,000 ($396,758 USD) to date.  The appeal is expected to cost them a further £130,000 ($206,314 USD). The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children is assisting with their legal costs and has appealed for donations.

Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

Greater Glasgow Health Board (Appellant) v Doogan and another (Respondents) (Scotland)

Case ID: UKSC 2013/0124

Issue

Judicial Review – Abortion – Conscientious objection – Midwives

Does s.4(1) of the Abortion Act 1967, which provides that “no person shall be under any duty… to participate in any treatment authorised by this Act to which he has a conscientious objection”, entitle a Labour Ward Co-ordinator to refuse to delegate to, supervise and/or support midwives providing care to patients undergoing termination procedures?

Facts

From the outset of their employment with the appellant health board, the respondent senior midwives, both Roman Catholics, objected to and were exempted from directly participating in the treatment of patients undergoing terminations. Following a service reorganisation, the numbers of abortions performed at the hospital where they worked increased. They sought confirmation from the appellant that they would not be required to delegate to, supervise or support other midwives providing care to such patients. The appellant declined to give this assurance, rejecting the respondents’ grievance and subsequent appeal. The respondents challenged the latter decision by way of judicial review, contending that it contravened s.4(1) of the Abortion Act 1967. They were unsuccessful at first instance but succeeded on appeal to the Inner House.

Judgment appealed

[2013] CSIH 36

Appellant

Greater Glasgow Health Board

Respondents

  1. Mary Teresa Doogan
  2. Concepta Wood

Interveners

  1. Royal College of Midwives
  2. British Pregnancy Advisory Service

 

 

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