Judges rule against Mary Doogan and Concepta Wood, who brought case objecting to any involvement in abortions
The UK’s supreme court has ruled that two Catholic midwives do not have the right to refuse to help other nurses with abortion procedures or planning.
Upholding an appeal by Greater Glasgow health board, the court found that Mary Doogan, 58, and Concepta Wood, 52, who worked as labour ward co-ordinators at the southern general hospital in Glasgow, did not have a legal right to object to helping with abortions in any way.
As conscientious objectors, the senior midwives have had no direct role in pregnancy terminations, but they argued that they should also be entitled to refuse to delegate, supervise and support staff involved in the procedures or providing care to patients during the process.
Reproductive rights campaigners were concerned that a decision by the court of session in Edinburgh in favour of the women’s case last year could have wide-ranging implications for the way the NHS dealt with other health staff who opposed abortions on religious grounds. . . [Full text]
Landmark decision ‘could have severe impact on women’s care’, experts warn
Midwives who object to abortions could be allowed to opt out of any involvement with women who choose to terminate their unborn babies.
The UK’s Supreme Court will today hear an appeal after two Catholic midwives won a landmark case for the right to refuse any involvement in abortion procedures in 2013.
Mary Doogan, 58, and Connie Wood, 52, argued that being required to supervise staff involved in abortions was a violation of their human rights.
The women had no direct role in pregnancy terminations, but claimed they should also be able to refuse to support staff taking part in the procedures.
If the court upholds that decision it could set a legal precedent, allowing other midwives who object to abortions to take the same stance.
But the Royal College of Midwives and the women’s charity British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) warned today that such a ruling could have severe implications for the care of women choosing abortions.
Ms Doogan and Ms Wood took their case against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to the Court of Session in Edinburgh in 2012, but lost.
But in April last year, three appeal judges at the same court ruled their appeal should succeed.
Judges at the court will tomorrow hear an appeal by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
A spokesman for the RCM and bpas said the two bodies are ‘deeply concerned’ that the judgement ‘extends the right of conscientious objection beyond the provisions intended by the Abortion Act’. . . . [Full text]