Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Glasgow midwives lose fight for conscientious objection

The Supreme Court has rejected the opportunity to uphold the right of conscientious objection for senior midwives who refuse to supervise abortions performed on a labour ward. Today's decision issued in the Supreme Court has been condemned by those who backed the Glasgow midwives' fight for their right to work in the NHS without being involved in abortions.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) which paid the midwives’ legal expenses throughout the case has said that senior midwives who refuse to kill babies could be forced to leave the profession.

Mary Doogan and Connie Wood (pictured right), the midwives in the case, commented on the judgment:

“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 recognised 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.”

Paul Tully, general secretary of SPUC said:

“The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children acknowledges the great debt that the whole pro-life community owes to Mary Doogan and Connie Wood for fighting this battle over the past seven years. They have fought not only for their own careers, but for all current and future members of the profession who uphold the right to life of everyone, from the time of conception, without discrimination. We are bitterly disappointed for them.

“Today's decision sadly makes it likely that senior midwives who refuse to kill babies will be forced to leave the profession. Junior midwives might still be able to work in labour wards where abortions are performed but they will be restricted to 'staff midwife' status at best. They could easily be placed in an impossible situation by pro-abortion superiors, and would be unable to receive promotion to a more senior role without fear of being required to violate their consciences. This will affect anyone who objects to abortion, of any religion or none. It will create a second-class status in midwifery for those who only deliver babies and don't kill them.

“Furthermore, the court has used the opportunity of this case to decide that the conscience clause in the Abortion Act does not apply to General Practitioners and that hospital doctors asked to prescribe abortion drugs will not be covered by the conscience clause. We anticipate that this will lead to renewed efforts by health officials to force doctors who have a conscientious objection to abortion either to compromise their respect for human life or to leave the profession. SPUC will support and encourage doctors to resist any such bullying approach.

“The pro-abortion lobby has long argued that conscientious objectors should be required to refer women seeking legal abortion to other practitioners. Bodies such as the Department of Health have qualified this by saying that this only applies when the statutory grounds for a legal abortion apply, but the Supreme Court has said that any medical professional who refuses to provide an abortion should arrange for a referral to someone else who will do so. This seems to go far beyond the scope of the Abortion Act, and furthermore is not even an issue there was any need for the Court to decide in this case.

“The Court has nevertheless said that midwives and doctors with conscientious objections are obliged to refer abortion patients to colleagues who don't object to abortion. This goes further than the General Medical Council, for instance, whose current guidance Personal Belief and Medical Practice says that doctors should refer patients to another doctor, but does not require them to check their colleague's pro-abortion credentials.”

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Joseph, SPUC's much-loved dispatch officer, retires after 24 years' service

Joseph Chiang, SPUC's dispatch officer, retired yesterday after nearly 25 years' loyal service to unborn children. Much loved by the Society's staff and volunteers, we gathered to celebrate this great servant and friend of the most vulnerable members of the community. Joseph is pictured in the centre, wearing a crucifix, standing in front of our youngest and tallest member of staff, Isaac Spencer.

Liz Foody, SPUC's dispatch manager and Joseph's line manager throughout most of that time, paid a lovely tribute to Joseph. Here's part of what she said:
"Joseph was born and raised in Uganda. In 1968, just three years before Idi Amin came to power, his grandmother, father and mother and 8 brothers and sisters moved to Birmingham where they lived with an aunt and uncle and their four children.

"He joined SPUC's staff in 1990 and has worked for us ever since.

"Joseph has travelled the world on many pilgrimages. Many a time he would leave work, travel overnight on Friday night to visit a Holy Shrine travelling back on the Sunday night and go straight into work on Monday morning.

"Joseph was always a very good time-keeper: First in, in the mornings, always on the dot of 8:15.

"Joseph, on behalf SPUC, I thank you most sincerely and wish many you year of retirement to spend with your family in Birmingham and of course happy birthday from us all."
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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Foetal alcohol judgment is anti-rational

The Court of Appeal's judgment today in the foetal alcohol syndrome case is anti-rational. SPUC has responded to the judgment in the case of CP v CICA http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/judgments/cp-v-cica/

The judges said that they thought babies who are victims of violence should not be compensated by the state in the way that other victims of violence are. Previously, children affected by FAS have received compensation. In today's judgment in the 'CP' case, the court has upheld cost-cutting changes in the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority practices and prioritised finance above welfare of children and expectant mothers.

Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, told the media earlier today:
"This cruel judgment not only leaves disabled children without just recompense, it flies in the face of common knowledge about when life begins and - it is anti-rational.

The judges use complex legal argument to explain why 80 children and babies whose lives are blighted by their mother's extremely heavy drinking in pregnancy will not receive compensation.

There is no need to prosecute any mother in order for the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority to award compensation to the babies who have been injured. Indeed, no-one, so far as we know, has even suggested that this is necessary.

In order to reach its decision the court relied on arcane legal rules which say that although unborn babies are distinct from their mother from the time of conception, they are not in law 'other' people or 'human persons'. This approach is anti-rational: it denies the known facts about human life and how babies develop.

The judges noted that children who die after birth because of injuries inflicted before they are born can be regarded as victims of crime. But the judges said that damage inflicted during pregnancy (such as alcohol poisoning) cannot be regarded as causing harm to the baby after birth because all the damage is done in the womb. According to the judges, the post-natal effects of fetal alcohol syndrome, which can include heart problems, learning difficulties, musculo-skeletal abnormalities and epilepsy, do not count as additional damage caused after birth.

This kind of argument seeks to find a difference where there is no distinction. It has no place in a legal judgment.

English law remains in denial about biology by refusing to recognise the human person in the womb. People start in life as embryos who grow into fetuses, who are called 'babies' when they are born and 'adults' when they are fully grown. Our judges are some of the most intelligent people in society, yet they deny the facts of human biology that children know."
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