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MIDWIVES IN COURT FIGHT OVER ABORTIONS; Catholic sisters say assisting terminations violates beliefs.

Byline: Record Reporter

TWO Catholic midwives have taken a health board to court - for failing to recognise their objection to assisting staff in abortions.

During a grievance procedure, Mary Doogan and Concepta Wood asked their bosses for confirmation that they would be excused - on religious grounds - from delegating, supervising or supporting staff in terminations.

But NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board turned down their application and the pair have taken their case to the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

They claim the health board's refusal to recognise their conscientious objection was unreasonable and violated their human rights.

The midwives argue that the 1967 Abortion Act includes the right to refuse to delegate, supervise and support staff involved in such work.

In their petition to the court, they said they are practising Roman Catholics and "hold a religious belief that all human life is sacred from the moment of conception and that termination of pregnancy is a grave offence against human life".

They added that their involvement in abortion is wrongful and an offence against God and the teachings of their church.

Mary, 57, and Concepta, 51, who are both midwifery sisters at the Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, worked in the labour ward.

Mary, of Garrowhill, Glasgow, has been off sick since 2010 as a result of the dispute.

Concepta, of Clarkston, also Glasgow, has been transferred to maternity assessment work.

At court, David Johnston QC told Lady Smith that although the women were long-standing employees, assisting staff with abortions only became an issue for them in 2007 following procedural changes in labour wards.

Management ruled that staff exercising a right to conscientious objection were allowed to withdraw from administering abortioninducing drugs but were required to provide care for patients through abortions.

The midwives then began their grievance procedure, which is being contested by the health board.

The hearing continues.

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LIFE ISSUE J Terminations
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 18, 2012
Words:316
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