Midwives to appeal ruling against freedom of conscience

Two Catholic midwives will appeal a ruling by the Court of Session in Edinburgh that they must facilitate abortions by supervising and supporting nurses involved with the procedure. [BBC]

 Herald Scotland:

Scottish judge rules objecting midwives can be forced to facilitate abortions

Two Catholic midwives who brought suit against National Health Services Greater Glasgow and Clyde have lost the case in the Court of Session.  The judge ruled that midwives, while expected to supervise and direct staff providing abortions, were not required to directly participate in the procedure, and were “sufficiently removed” from the procedures that their beliefs had been appropriately accommodated. Nonetheless, the judge did acknowledge that they were causally connected, but ruled that the protection of conscience clause in the Abortion Act (1967) must be interpreted to refer only to direct participation.

Statement by Glasgow midwives after abortion judgment

29 February 2012, 17:15

Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

The two Glasgow midwives at the centre of today’s court judgment on conscientious objection to abortion have made the following statement:

Miss Mary Doogan said:

“Connie [Wood] and I are both very disappointed and greatly saddened by today’s verdict.

“For most of our 20-plus years of employment as midwifery sisters at the Southern General Hospital we have been proud to be associated with a maternity unit in which the right of all midwifery staff to freedom of conscience has been acknowledged, protected and upheld with no detrimental outcome to any mother whatsoever.

“Neither Connie nor I stand in judgement of any woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy for whatever reasons. We are more than aware of the difficult choices that some expectant mothers may be faced with in a crisis pregnancy.

“However, in holding to the view that life should be protected from conception to natural death, neither do we wish to be judged for exercising what is our legal right to refuse to participate in the process of medical termination of pregnancy.

“We wish now to take some time to consider all options that are available to us (including appeal) before making any further comment.”

Notes for editors:

Since both women remain employees of the health board they are not in a position to make further comment or give interviews.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has supported the midwives in bringing their case, underwriting their legal costs, and will now be considering their further legal options with them. Please see SPUC’s release of earlier today  and of 17 January.SPUC’s communications department can be contacted on:

  • mobile: 07939 177683
  • direct dial: 020 7820 3129
  • email: news@spuc.org.uk
  • Twitter: @spucprolife

Midwives in Scotland go to court over forced facilitation of abortion

Scotland’s largest health board, the National Health Service Greater Glasgow and Clyde, ordered two Catholic midwives to schedule and supervise other health care workers providing abortion.  The organization rejected a grievance from the midwives, claiming that the protection of conscience provision in the Abortion Act exempts objectors only from active and direct participation in an abortion.  It insists that it can lawfully order objectors to perform other duties necessary for the provision of abortions.  The two midwives have gone to the Court of Session in Edinburgh seeking an order overturning the employer’s decision. [BBC; The Telegraph]