Pro-life groups have claimed that the recent drop in applications to midwifery courses could be rectified by enshrining conscientious objection.
Recent figures show that there has been a 35 per cent drop in the number of applicants to midwifery courses since 2013. The Royal College of Midwives (RCM), which analysed the latest Ucas data for England, said the biggest reduction was in those aged 21 or over.
In 2013, more than 12,000 people aged over 21 applied for a midwifery course in England, but by 2017 that figure had dropped to just 6,700 – a decrease of 45 per cent. . . [Full text]
Pro-choice groups have condemned an attempt to create new laws that would allow doctors and nurses to refuse to take part in abortions on moral grounds.
A private bill going through the House of Lords that would expand rights of conscientious objection for healthcare professionals has been dismissed as unnecessary by abortion providers and campaigners.
Those in favour of the bill, sponsored by the Northern Irish crossbench peer Nuala O’Loan, insisted their aim was not to restrict abortion but to uphold freedom of belief and religion they claim is under threat in hospitals since a contentious supreme court ruling in 2014. . . [Full text]
Is it really such a radical idea to think healthcare professionals should not be forced to help in procedures to which they morally object?
Prof. Andrew Tettenborn
Just over three years ago, two devout Catholic midwives lost an important claim in the courts. Disciplined for declining to make arrangements for abortions in a Glasgow maternity ward, they sued, saying that the Abortion Act’s conscience clause allowed them to refuse to participate in the procedure. The Supreme Court, combining an impressive capacity for casuistry with a matching unconcern for moral consistency, chose to define “participation” as meaning carrying out the abortion, and nothing more. Organising, managing and aiding other people to do it was quite different; there was no right to refuse to do it.
The point matters a great deal. Many NHS hospitals now put abortion and other controversial procedures out to tender (a matter itself a cause for concern, though not here), and so organisation rather than participation is increasingly what will be demanded from often unwilling staff. . . [Full Text]
Call The Midwife has become a national institution, and is the BBC’s most popular drama.
Up to ten million people tune in to this heart-warming serial, and its stars, such as Jenny Agutter and Helen George, have reminded people what a high calling it is to bring children into the world.
Yet I think that many viewers would be horrified to realise that today, in 21st century Britain, midwives can lose their jobs unless they are willing to facilitate abortions – even though, in ending the life of an unborn child, they must do something that is instinctively the opposite of their calling.
To put a midwife – or any other healthcare professional – in that invidious position is to me wholly unacceptable. It is almost totalitarian. . .[Full Text]
Mary Doogan sees herself like the driver of the getaway car in an armed robbery.
‘Would the police say that because he wasn’t actually in the bank, brandishing the gun, he isn’t guilty? Of course, they wouldn’t.’
This retired midwife, demurely dressed in a coral cardigan and smart court shoes, is the least likely of criminals, and it is sad that she carries even a hint of guilt about her ‘crime’.
After all, it was committed only in her own eyes (and God’s, she would say) and was a matter of conscience.
In the course of her duties in an NHS hospital, Mary, a devout Catholic, supervised colleagues as they participated in abortions. Although never hands-on herself, she admits she always felt implicated.
‘It’s why I later took the stance I did,’ she says, referring to the court case that ultimately cost her job as a labour ward co-ordinator at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow. . . [Full Text]
A new Canadian organization for midwives has been formed. Canadian Midwives for Life describes itself as a not-for-profit group that attempts to speak for Canadian midwives “who recognize the dignity and inviolability of human life from the moment of fertilization.” Among the objectives of CMFL: “Understand their own personal boundaries in midwifery practice and the implications of conscientious objection.”
From June 12 to 15, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice heard legal arguments relating to conscience rights for doctors in Ontario. Five doctors and three physicians’ organizations want the court to declare portions of policies created by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) a violation of doctors’ rights enshrined in the Charter. A decision is expected later this year.
CPSO, the respondent in the case, has stated they may suspend or sanction a doctor that refuses to participate in an assisted suicide, which they — duplicitously in my opinion — call “medical aid in dying” (MAID). Euthanasiasts prefer the euphemism because “aid in dying” sounds softer and gentler than “kill.” But the true definition of MAID is palliative care, whose future as a medical discipline has been thrown into uncertainty by the CPSO’s bullish stance on assisted suicide.
The CPSO’s conscience-hostile position is both unnecessary and unjust. . . [Full text]
STRASBOURG, France – A Christian midwife filed her application with the European Court of Human Rights Wednesday against Sweden. Elinor Grimmark had to seek work in another country because she refused to participate in abortions. Because the Swedish courts have failed to recognize her freedom of conscientious objection, she is asking the European court to hear her case, Grimmark v. Sweden.
“The desire to help bring life into this world is what leads many midwives and nurses to enter the medical profession in the first place. Instead of forcing desperately needed midwives out of a profession, governments should look to safeguard the moral convictions of medical staff,” said ADF International Director of European Advocacy Robert Clarke. “Ellinor’s case could determine whether people who value life at all stages of development will be able to pursue a medical career in the future. Sweden has failed to protect this midwife’s fundamental right to freedom of conscience guaranteed by international law.”
Three different medical clinics had refused to employ Grimmark because she would not assist with abortions in light of her convictions about the dignity of all human life. On April 12, the Swedish Labour Court of Appeal refused to protect her freedom of conscience and instead found that Grimmark’s rights had not been violated.
The court required her to pay the local government’s legal costs, amounting to more than 150,000 euros. ADF International filed an expert brief in support of her case with the Swedish court, highlighting the protection for freedom of conscience that exists under international law.
“I chose the midwifery profession because I wanted to help bring life into this world,” explained Grimmark during a media background briefing in Strasbourg Wednesday. “I cannot understand why the Swedish government refuses to accommodate my conscientious convictions. I am now working in Norway, where my conscience is respected, but no one can explain why Sweden cannot do the same.”
ADF International is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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