Midwives launch appeal

Mary Doogan
Mary Doogan

A SOUTHSIDE midwife who lost her court case to be allowed not to take part in abortions has moved to appeal.

Concepta Wood (52), from Clarkston, along with her colleague, Mary Doogan (58) of Garrowhill, want their conscientious objection to termination recognised by their employers, the NHS.

Both women work at the Southern General hospital where they were employed as ward co-ordinators.

Their objection is based on their Catholic religious conviction and a judicial review into their work concluded that the women were suitably protected against participating in any meaningful way in the abortion process.

Then, the case was heard by Lady Smith, who said: “They are not being asked to play any direct role in bringing about terminations of pregnancy.

“Nothing they have to do as part of their duties terminates a woman’s pregnancy.

“They are sufficiently removed from direct involvement as, it seems to me, to afford appropriate respect for and accommodation of their beliefs.”

But both disagree with the ruling and have launched an appeal arguing that their objection, recognised in the 1967 Act which legalised abortion, should extend to the whole of their duties as part of a team that carries out terminations.

Their counsel, Gerry Moynihan QC, told the court: “In the 1967 Act what parliament set out to do was to balance two objectives, conscious that abortion was a controversial matter.

“What they sought to balance was the interests of those who wished abortion to be liberalised and carried out more safely, so it was not done by back street practioners, and regulated.

“It decriminalised abortion in certain circumstances.”

“But parliaments also recognised in the debate that having decriminalised it it could then be that a superior could direct a junior person, primarily a nurse or junior doctor, to participate in treatment to which they had a well-recognised conscientious objection.

“So what parliament did was balance the interests of those who wished to liberalise treatment while respecting the right of conscientious objection.”

Representing the NHS, Brian Napier QC argued that having responsibility of a managerial, supervisory or support nature did not of itself trigger the right to conscientious objection.