Midwives’ Appeal will be heard in January
By Dave Andrusko
A “thank you” to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) which sent out an alert that an appeal will be heard next January in the case of two Glasgow midwives who refuse to supervise abortion procedures.
Last February, judge Lady Smith ruled against Mary Doogan and Connie Wood at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Lady Smith held that the two could not invoke the conscience clause of the 1967 Abortion Act to opt out of their duties because they were not directly involved in performing the abortions at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital where they had served for more than 20 years.
The dispute arose when their employers –National Health Service Greater Glasgow and Clyde–demanded in 2007 that mid-term and late-term abortions would be performed on the labor ward rather than on the gynecology ward.
Central to their defense was that previously they were not called on to delegate, supervise, or support staff engaged in the care of patients undergoing abortions. They also claimed that the health board decision breached their freedom of religion rights under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
However, as NRL News Today reported February 29, Lady Smith was unpersuaded. She ruled that Doogan and Wood had to accept management instructions to oversee abortions performed by other midwives on the labor ward.
“They are sufficiently removed from direct involvement as, it seems to me, to afford appropriate respect for and accommodation of their beliefs,” the judge said. “The nature of their duties does not, in fact, require them to provide treatment to terminate pregnancies directly.”
Following the ruling, Doogan issued a statement in which she said both midwives were “greatly saddened” by the verdict.
“Neither Connie nor I stand in judgment of any woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy for whatever reasons,” she said. “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,” she said.
Their appeal will be heard by three judges at the Court of Session.
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