Monday, 7 January 2013

Appeal hearing in midwives’ legal battle

Mary Doogan and Connie Wood, midwifery sisters from Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital, will go to the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh tomorrow (Tuesday 8 January) to appeal against a decision that they must supervise staff midwives performing abortions, despite their conscientious objection to abortion. The Abortion Act 1967 states that no-one with a conscientious objection can be obliged to participate in abortion procedures.

Last February, Lady Smith, sitting in the Outer House of the Court of Session, ruled that the midwifery sisters did not have the protection of the Act’s conscience clause, and so must accept the hospital management’s instruction to supervise staff midwives in performing abortion procedures. They are not required, the judge ruled, to provide direct “hands on” assistance, but could be expected to allocate staff midwives to carry out abortions, and give those midwives support and advice throughout the procedure. The abortion procedure in question usually involves the administration of several drugs and typically takes a day to complete.

The appellants’ legal costs are being underwritten by SPUC. People wishing to make donations towards the midwives' legal costs should telephone SPUC on +44 (0)20 7091 7091 or donate online.

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