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Scottish Midwives' abortion conscience appeal may go to Supreme Court

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Two Scottish Catholic midwives attempting to win exemption from involvement with abortion may have their case heard at the Supreme Court in London.

Mary Doogan, 58, and Concepta Wood, 52, worked as labour ward co-ordinators at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital. They objected to supervising staff involved in abortions.

Objection

The midwives argued that they have a right to conscientious objection stemming from their faith commitments and that this is consistent with provisions made in the 1967 Abortion Act.

They stated that before 2007 they were not called on to delegate, supervise or support staff dealing with patients undergoing terminations.

The midwives took their case against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to the Court of Session in Edinburgh but lost their case last year.

The Judge ruled that the midwifery sisters did not have direct involvement in the procedure to which they object and so dismissed the action. 

Reaction

The women said at the time that they were “very disappointed and greatly saddened” by the decision, and later began moves to appeal against the ruling. They have now appealed to three judges at the Court of Session.

Their counsel Gerry Moynihan QC told the court that the case may go to the Supreme Court from either side. He argued that “the dividing line” over what was exempt ought to be an individual’s conscience.

The hearing continues.

Andrea Williams of Christian Concern commented: "The Abortion Act 1967 makes clear provisions for conscientious objections to abortion. It is vital that this right is protected if freedom of thought and conscience is to be preserved.

"Many people enter the medical profession because of their faith, which gives them the motivation to care for others. Conscience must be protected so that these people, who make up a significant proportion of medical staff in the UK, can continue in their work without fear of being disciplined for living out their beliefs".

Sources:

Herald Scotland

Kirkintilloch Herald

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