The Catholic midwives who fought against being involved with terminations are facing a six-figure legal bill after the Supreme Court ruled against them.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the anti abortion charity that backed the pair’s battle to be considered conscientious objectors, said it plans to raise funds to help with costs, which are estimated to be as much as £300,000. . . [Full Text]
The Supreme Court recently handed down its judgment in an interesting and potentially controversial case concerning the interpretation of the conscientious objection clause in the Abortion Act 1967. Overturning the Inner House of the Court of Session’s ruling, the Court held that two Catholic midwives could be required by their employer to delegate to, supervise and support other staff who were involved in carrying out abortion procedures, as part of their roles as Labour Ward Co-ordinators at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.
We set out the background to the case and explained the earlier rulings and their ramifications on this blog here and here. The key question the Supreme Court had to grapple with the meaning of the words “to participate in any treatment authorised by this Act to which he has a conscientious objection” in section 4 of the 1967 Act.
The disappearing Article 9 argument
Somewhat frustratingly (at least from the perspective of the writers of a human rights blog!) an argument based around Article 9 of the European Convention – the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion – was not really dealt with by the Supreme Court, despite having been trailed in the earlier court proceedings. Lady Hale JSC, who wrote the judgment with which the other Supreme Court Justices agreed, described the point as a “distraction” . . . [Full text]
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]
Catholic midwives Mary Doogan and Connie Wood lose case against being made to supervise other staff carrying out abortions
Two Catholic midwives who refused to take part in any abortion procedures have lost their legal battle to be treated as ‘conscientious objectors’.
The UK’s highest court overturned a previous ruling made in favour of the two midwives, after a Scottish health authority urged it to overturn last year’s decision of the Court of Session, in Edinburgh, in the case of Mary Doogan and Connie Wood.
The ruling is likely to mean that Ms Doogan and Ms Wood will now have to supervise abortions carried out by other staff, as part of their terms of employment, although they will still be free to refuse to carry out the terminations themselves.
The case centres on the scope of the right to conscientious objection under the Abortion Act 1967, which provides that “no person shall be under any duty … to participate in any treatment authorised by this Act to which he has a conscientious objection”. . . [Full text]
The UK’s highest court ruled on the matter this morning.
TWO MIDWIVES WHO do not want to partake in any abortion services in the UK have been told they must still delegate, supervise and support other staff.
The ruling was made by the UK’s highest court today, overruling a previous judgement that found in favour of the nurses.
Concepta Wood and Mary Doogan are both conscientious objectors and have been labelled in the British media as “Catholic midwives” since they began their legal challenge seven years ago. . . [Full text]