As LifeNews previously reported, in 2014 the British Supreme Court ruled that a pair of midwives who didn’t want to be involved in assisting abortions must do so. The senior midwives, Connie Wood and Mary Doogan, had more than 20 years of experience as Labor Ward Coordinators; but after the hospital reorganized their abortion “services,” transferring late abortion patients to the labor ward rather than the gynecology ward, they were asked to participate in abortions.
The midwives and their attorney’s argued that the Abortion Act of 1967 states that no one with a conscientious objection can be obliged to participate in abortion procedures. Nevertheless, the hospital management insisted that a conscientious objection clause in the 1967 Abortion Act applied only to active participation in abortion and did not cover the women’s duties to delegate, supervise and support staff.
After the decision, the midwives expressed their disappointment.
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They said, “We are both saddened and extremely disappointed with today’s verdict from the Supreme Court and can only imagine the subsequent detrimental consequences that will result from today’s decision on staff of conscience throughout the UK. Despite it having been recognized that the number of abortions on the labour ward at our hospital is in fact a tiny percentage of the workload, which in turn could allow the accommodation of conscientious objection with minimal effort, this judgment, with its constraints and narrow interpretation, has resulted in the provision of a conscience clause which now in practice is meaningless for senior midwives on a labour ward.”
Now the Catholic midwives are facing a six-figure legal bill after the Supreme Court ruled against them.
According to the Catholic Universe, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) backed the pair’s battle and plans to raise funds to help with costs, which are estimated to be as much as £300,000 ($463, 143). Paul Tully, a spokesperson from SPUC said, “Concepta Wood and Mary Doogan have been extremely courageous in taking on this battle, and there is no way we would put them in the position of having to face these costs on their own. We will raise it through fundraising, and we will focus on these midwives and their struggle.”
However, Tully said that a remaining part of the midwives’ objection is still awaiting a legal decision. “The other part of their case was that the hospital had accommodated their position for many years, and were now suddenly saying they would not, which they argue is a discrimination issue,” said Tully.
Additionally, he said the court case has taken a toll on the midwives and was unsure as to whether Wood and Doogan would be able to stand another legal battle. He concluded, “It has taken a heavy toll on them, including on Mary’s health. Mary might want to retire, but Connie might want to continue in employment and that would mean she would have to find a role where she had no involvement at all in abortions, for example in a community midwifery.”