NHS appeals to Supreme Court to overturn Catholic midwives’ right not to co-operate in abortions

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has announced it will appeal the ruling from the Scottish Court of Sessions that confirmed the right of two Catholic midwives not to co-operate in any manner in the killing of unborn children through abortion.

The Irish Post reports:

THE CATHOLIC midwives who won a landmark legal victory to be exempted from abortions may have to continue their battle in the Supreme Court, The Irish Post has learned.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has announced it will appeal a ruling earlier this year that found Clare woman Connie Wood and her colleague Mary Doogan could refuse to delegate, support and supervise staff performing abortions.

The verdict marked the first time in Britain that the right to conscientious objection was deemed to extend beyond direct participation in terminations.

Speaking to The Irish Post, a spokesperson for the health board said: “It is our intention to appeal the decision of the Inner House of the Court of Session to The Supreme Court.”

The news has been met with dismay by the Catholic pressure group that backed the midwives’ legal fight since they raised their objections on religious grounds while working as labour ward co-ordinators at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital.

“We are disappointed, particularly for Connie and Mary, as this means prolonging this lengthy case even further,” said Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

“It is also particularly disappointing considering that the appeal judgment was so clear, so comprehensive and so decisive in favour of their case.”

More than a year after the two women first took NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to court, judges ruled in April that they should not have to play any role in abortion procedures.

Noting that the right to conscientious objection enshrined in 1967 Abortion Act exists because “abortion is felt by many people to be morally repugnant”, they concluded that it “should extend to any involvement in the process of treatment, the object of which is to terminate a pregnancy”.

At the time, Ms Wood and Ms Doogan welcomed the verdict as “affirmation of the rights of all midwives to withdraw from a practice that would violate their conscience”.

Mr Tully predicted that the midwives, both aged in their 50s, will continue to resist any legal action against them and praised their “resolute commitment not to be involved in abortion in any way”.

Asked whether he thought the NHS had a chance of winning its appeal, Mr Tully said he believed the legal rights of midwives are “very clear” under the Abortion Act.

“But we have seen how courts in the UK have handed down very negative and highly questionable judgments on ethical matters; such as in the Tony Bland euthanasia case and in the Debbie Purdy assisted suicide case,” he added.

Protect the Pope comment: Poor Mary Doogan and Connie Wood, and their families, have already spent five years defending their right not to co-operate in the killing of unborn children, and now they have to face more uncertainty and stress because the NHS wants to curtail the conscientious rights of medical professions.  Lady Dorrian, sitting with Lord Mackay of Drumadoon and Lord McEwan, gave a simple and very clear ruling: “In our view the right of conscientious objection extends not only to the actual medical or surgical termination but to the whole process of treatment given for that purpose. ”

Obviously, the NHS believes that they have a chance to overturn this clear ruling by going to the London supreme court, because English judges have a track record of making immoral rulings.

http://www.irishpost.co.uk/news/catholic-midwives-abortion-objection-to-be-challenged-at-supreme-court

46 comments to NHS appeals to Supreme Court to overturn Catholic midwives’ right not to co-operate in abortions

  • Karla

    Wow, this is outrageous. And what money is the NHS using to appeal this case? Taxpayer money I guess. I hope the NHS loses. What respect does the NHS have for conscience rights? Very little.

  • ms Catholic state

    Nasty, spiteful and vindictive! Maybe the NHS should focus on caring and curing patients….like they are paid to….instead of pursuing evil agendas and ideologies that have nothing to do with the care of patients and staff. No wonder the NHS has lost public respect and trust. It has forgotten it’s raison d’etre. Now it is acting like an anti-Christian ideological organ of the State, which I suppose it has become.

    No so-called ‘midwife’ who assists at an abortion…..should have the temerity to call herself a midwife. All Catholics and people of good-will should ask specifically for a pro-life real midwife! This matter needs some imagination and call to action by the Church. And we need to see the return of good Catholic hospitals….to provide the best care for all. Including mothers and their babies, born and unborn.

  • Tim

    “English judges have a track record of making immoral rulings”

    Just a point of information, the UK Supreme Court has Scottish and NI judges sitting in it as well as those from England and Wales.

  • Lynda

    How evil. How unconstitutional – yes, the UK has an uncodified Constitution. If this were to be successful, the SC would be unconstitutionally denying the Rule of Law and the basic human right not to be forced to participate in the killing of the innocent. Of course, the Court has no such jurisdiction.

    • Tim

      “and the basic human right not to be forced to participate in the killing of the innocent”

      there is more to it than that though. Is it a basic human right to not participate whilst still receiving a wage from your employer for duties you refuse to participate in?

      I fully support the right of everyone to have nothing to do with providing abortions and if I were a nurse I would not want to have anything to do with providing abortions either so I have some real sympathy for these scottish nurses.

      BUT this case is not about the legality or the morality of abortion. You migth wish that it was but it isn’t. It is an employment law matter about essentially who shoulders the cost of conscientious objection – should the cost fall on the employer who will have to employ more people to do the job. Or should it fall on the employee who would need to find another job.

      When I say this case isn’t about abortion, I mean that it will have much broader implications – what about the rights of a solider who refuses to fight in a war they regard as illegal? or a Muslim shop worker who refuses to handle alcohol, or an non-believing headteacher who refuses to provide an act of worship in assemblies in his school?

      There are no easy answers to these questions. Cases that reach the Supreme Court as almost always finely balanced. Personally I would hope that the court goes someway to recognise rights of conscience but that they draw limits somewhere. I don;t say that for religious reasons but because my insticts are to support the individual against a large employer, but I recognise that there have to be limits somewhere. I’m glad that this is going to the hight court (and commend both the NHS and the nurses for sticking with it) because whatever is decided we will hopefully have some more legal clarity than we have now.

      • John Dare

        Thanks Tim; light without heat as ever.

      • D Newman

        Tim,

        That is a fair point well put. But I think that it is precisely because it is fair that it is rather worrying for Catholics. If it is established that nurses must be involved in abortions as a condition of employment, it will be fair and legal to turn down anyone who refuses, and therefore fair and legal to exclude all Catholics from nursing who will not go against their consciences. The same might be said for many other jobs which expose this widening gap between Catholicism / Christianity and secular culture. This is rather more difficult for Catholics than for everyone else…

        • ms Catholic state

          Sorry D Newman…..but if that’s the case then Catholics should stop paying taxes. Im all for that….are you?! Just think of the magnificent hospitals and schools we could run then. Secularism has a small-minded evil stranglehold on services….that turns them bad.

          No representation…..no taxation! BTW….Catholics want real Catholic midwives ie ones that don’t preside over the murder of unborn babies. In other words…the best there are!

        • Tim

          there is substance to your concerns although of course there are different kinds of nurses.

      • When they were first employed, did their contract specify they would have to do abortions?
        I heard one of the midwives’ testimonies at a 40 Days for Life kick-off meeting , and this was not my impression. Abortions were tranferred from the gynecology ward to the labour ward because women received better care in the labour ward. And the reason why the hospital got involved in abortions in the first place is because fewer doctors were willing to perform late term abortions. So it is not like it was ever thus.

        You ask whether it is “a basic human right to not participate whilst still receiving a wage from your employer for duties you refuse to participate in”. Well, even if you leave aside the moral aspect of abortion, even from a legal point of view, this is not what midwives do. If it is not in their contract, then it is perfectly acceptable for them to keep receiving wages whilst refusing to supervise/delegate abortions.

        • Tim

          “When they were first employed, did their contract specify they would have to do abortions?”

          I do not know the facts. But I completely agree with you that this is the important legal point here. To me the rule of thumb should be if they signed up to do something and then refused it is their problem. If they signed up to do something and then the goal-posts moved then all efforts should be made to accomodate them.

    • Sam Mace

      i don’t think there is anything in our uncodified constitution which gives the right for people to receive a wage while not engaging in some of the duties.

  • tro

    With Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Enda Kenny leading the way, the forces of aggressive secularism have been given an immense fillip and become greatly emboldened in their attacks on the Common Good.

  • Joseph Matthew

    Whether or not the decision is overturned by the Supreme Court, one thing is increasingly clear : secular fundamentalism is now out of control in the UK.

  • Karla

    NHS has enough troubles, what with the Stafford hospital scandal, the scandal of the Liverpool pathway and the higher death rates at NHS hospitals at weekends. And yet the NHS is spending money to fight the rights of two midwives, who have probably contributed greatly to the NHS, to remove their conscience rights. Shameful.

  • comte de Frebonius

    The whole thing has the wreaks of the lord of this world and he will do all that he can to assault innocence. Sadly, the Irish bishops today gave a hard statement about Kenny’s law and when pressed upon it at the 6 news, the new bishop of Limerick, stated that excommunication was nothing but a red herring!!!!!!!! It seem now that Ireland sadly has it’s own version of the magic circle. When are we going to get some bishops with the conviction of my Lords Egan and Davis? And Kenny restated that there will be no free vote, you either go with Church or prepare your place in Hell with the Kenny apparatchiks!!!!

  • Mike2

    Is stealing immoral because I think that it immoral or because objectively it is immoral? Is killing an innocent person immoral because I think that it is immoral or because objectively it is immoral? Is assisting in somebody’s suicide immoral because I think that it is immoral or because objectively it is immoral? Is abortion immoral because I think that it is immoral or because objectively it is immoral? Anyone who accepts that these things are objectively immoral will strongly support the statement that “English judges have a track record of making immoral rulings.” The alternative is the farcical modern notion that anybody can have any mortality they wish and that nothing is objectively immoral.

  • Rifleman 819

    Do we need to know who exactly in the Health Board is promoting this legal move to the Supreme Court and who authorised the expenses for this legal appeal?
    But as has been said this will be funded out of a cash-strapped NHS budget.

  • peter

    Does anyone know where i can find out more on this story – especially the original ruling. And is there a way to campaign if the courts reverse the lower courts decision.

    peter

  • John Dare

    More to the point, has anyone found out what the grounds of the projected appeal are?

    Going back to earlier comments:

    1. The court has the juristicion allowed by law
    2. Would there be this uoroar if the NHS was spending money a case to allow the midwives to opt out?
    3. Fighting cases out of a cash strapped NHS budget is a two way street.

  • peter

    Thanks Nick, I’ll have a search around. I don’t read every post sadly!

    peter

  • ms Catholic state

    More disturbing news about the NHS…..clearly a law unto itself…with plenty of taxpayers money to keep it going! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10114502/NHS-trusts-spend-2m-to-stop-staff-speaking-out.html

  • John Dare

    You’ve been watching http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Narcissus again Ms. That Deborah Kerr could’ve nursed me any day :)

  • Terry Wilson

    I think that the NHS should be utterly ashamed of themselves. They have gone against the original ruling, lost this case and now spending more of our hard earned cash in the high court. Apart from the very unfair treatment of these brave nurses, it is the arrogance of this hierarchy in the NHS. We have had so many cases of silenced whistle blowers, millions of pounds spent on cover-ups and paying people off. People sacked for ridiculous reasons, yet massive mistakes or incompetence you might get moved sideways or very often upwards!
    Connie and Mary, may God bless you and all who stand up for what is right. You are giving us pro-lifers so much inspiration. We were warned in the scriptures to expect all this flack and ridicule in life. It is so easy for the knockers and the people who jeer us. Hard going but very worth while on our side. (What doth it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his own soul)

    • John Dare

      Tim
      June 12, 2013 at 10:51 am · Reply
      “and the basic human right not to be forced to participate in the killing of the innocent”

      there is more to it than that though. Is it a basic human right to not participate whilst still receiving a wage from your employer for duties you refuse to participate in?

      I fully support the right of everyone to have nothing to do with providing abortions and if I were a nurse I would not want to have anything to do with providing abortions either so I have some real sympathy for these scottish nurses.

      BUT this case is not about the legality or the morality of abortion. You migth wish that it was but it isn’t. It is an employment law matter about essentially who shoulders the cost of conscientious objection – should the cost fall on the employer who will have to employ more people to do the job. Or should it fall on the employee who would need to find another job.

      When I say this case isn’t about abortion, I mean that it will have much broader implications – what about the rights of a solider who refuses to fight in a war they regard as illegal? or a Muslim shop worker who refuses to handle alcohol, or an non-believing headteacher who refuses to provide an act of worship in assemblies in his school?

      There are no easy answers to these questions. Cases that reach the Supreme Court as almost always finely balanced. Personally I would hope that the court goes someway to recognise rights of conscience but that they draw limits somewhere. I don;t say that for religious reasons but because my insticts are to support the individual against a large employer, but I recognise that there have to be limits somewhere. I’m glad that this is going to the hight court (and commend both the NHS and the nurses for sticking with it) because whatever is decided we will hopefully have some more legal clarity than we have now.

  • AsItIs

    I wonder if those of other Faith/Cultures objected to assisting in abortions/EUTHANASIA would be taken to The Supreme Court??

    • John Dare

      Have those of other faith/cultures, by which I suspect you mean Mulslims? every taken similar legal action? Do you know that they have?

  • Tim

    I wonder what you think of this statement from one of our secular judges?

    “freedom of conscience does not confer a right to indiscriminate conscientious objection. When an asserted freedom turns into license or becomes an excuse for limiting the rights of others, the State is obliged to protect, also by legal means, the inalienable rights of its citizens against such abuses”

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