Two Christian midwives lost their case this week and will no longer be able to opt-out of assisting in abortions. The midwives, Mary Doogan and Mrs Connie Wood, argued that they had a right to refuse to direct or assist other midwives performing abortions due to the conscience clause in the Abortion Act 1967……. …. the Court ruled that the midwives’ role is not covered by the conscience opt-out in the Abortion Act. The two women will now be considering whether to appeal ….
Published 1st March 2012
The right of midwives to opt-out of abortions had historically been respected by Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, yet it recently changed its stance by imposing an obligation on midwives to watch over, and sometimes assist with, late abortions.
The midwives felt that the hospital was asking them to be “morally, medically and legally responsible for abortions.”
The two midwives, who had served for over 20 years at the hospital, were unable to persuade the hospital to uphold their right to opt-out during the statutory grievance procedure.
They were forced to challenge Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board in Court, claiming that the refusal to recognise their entitlement to conscientious objection was unreasonable, violating their freedom of conscience and religion under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Their petition to the Court of Session in Edinburgh stated: “They hold a religious belief that all human life is sacred from the moment of conception and that termination of pregnancy is a grave offence against human life.”
Yet the Court ruled that the midwives’ role is not covered by the conscience opt-out in the Abortion Act. The two women will now be considering whether to appeal, and are being supported by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.