Fears over abortion services in South West London after midwives take NHS to court


The Catholic midwives won the right to completely disengage from abortion services.

By Rachael Knowles

Abortion services in South West London may be threatened after two Catholic midwives from Glasgow yesterday won the right to completely disengage from abortion services.

Mary Doogan, 58, and Concepta Wood, 52, took the NHS to court saying they did not want to delegate, supervise or support staff involved with abortion.

In January 2012 a court ruled against the nurses, saying they could only conscientiously object to direct involvement in abortion, but the appeal court has now quashed this decision.

A spokesman for Our Lady Immaculate Roman Catholic Church in Surbiton said: “Obviously we think it’s a very good thing.”

Under the Abortion Act 1967, medical staff have been able to opt out of direct involvement with abortion, but indirect involvement has been considered just part of the job.

Now it is feared that anti-abortion nurses may now try to opt out of combined services around the country, causing personnel difficulties.

Tracey McNeill, Senior Vice President of reproductive health organisation Marie Stopes International, said: “Healthcare professionals should of course have the right to conscientious objection, but we must make sure that women are still able to access professional care when they need it.

“Marie Stopes International will always support women’s choice within the legal framework and we watch with interest to see if there are any further judgements for this.”

Pro-life charity LIFE is supportive of the new ruling and said that forcing nurses to be even indirectly involved in abortion interferes with conscientious objection.

LIFE spokesman Mark Bhagwandin said: “It sends the wrong signal to anyone who wishes to enter the profession. Services will have to be made to delegate duties accordingly.

“I can foresee this argument directly affecting services in London and they would have to be reminded of this verdict and act within the spirit of the law. No-one should be forced to take part in light of this verdict.”

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