Glasgow archbishop hails ruling for midwives as victory for freedom of conscience
The Court of Session in Edinburgh’s ruling that two Scottish Catholic midwives cannot be forced to supervise abortions is being hailed as a landmark victory for religious freedom.
Archbishop Philip Tartgalia of Glasgow, who is currently in Rome, said: “Today’s decision by the Appeal Judges is a victory for freedom of conscience and for common sense.”
Mary Doogan, 58, and Concepta Wood, 52, had their original case against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) last year.
Lady Dorrian, sitting with Lord Mackay of Drumadoon and Lord McEwan, ruled on Wednesday the midwives’ right to conscientious objection means they can refuse to delegate, supervise or support staff involved in abortions.
“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,” the ruling said. “The right is given because it is recognised that the process of abortion is felt by many people to be morally repugnant. The right of conscientious objection is given out of respect for those convictions and not for any other reason. It is in keeping with the reason for the exemption that the wide interpretation which we favour should be given to it.”
In a statement Ms Doogan, from Garrowhill in Glasgow, and Mrs Wood, from Clarkston in East Renfrewshire—who were employed as labour ward co-ordinators at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow—said they were ‘absolutely delighted’ at the ruling.
Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) who underwrote the nurses legal costs, said the verdict was a tribute to the midwives ‘tenacity and deep sense of professionalism.’