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Please support Scottish midwives Mary and Connie

Posted by Paul Smeaton on 4 May 2012

Mary Doogan and Connie Wood are supervisor midwives at Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, coordinating a team of midwives in a busy labour ward.

Until 2007, the hospital respected both the right of staff-midwives and Labour Ward Coordinators to refuse to be involved in abortions that take place at the hospital: the labour ward co-ordinators were not forced to make appointments, or to designate which midwife would do the abortion. Nor were they required to provide cover when that midwife was on a break, and so on.

Then everything changed – and the hospital management said that the conscience clause had been re-interpreted. The management decided that Mary and Connie were no longer allowed to object in conscience to supervising the work of midwives who are directly involved in abortions on the ward.

Connie and Mary instigated a grievance procedure with the hospital, seeking to reassert the right, which they had exercised for 20 years before then, not to participate in any way with the abortions.

And after four long years of battling the hospital management's decision, Mary and Connie with advice and support from SPUC and pro-life lawyers, launched a judicial review of the decision, in July 2011. SPUC promised to pay the costs of taking the case to the Court of Session—the equivalent of the high court in Scotland.

Then, in February, the judge, Lady Smith, gave her decision, rejecting the midwives' application to have the management's decision overturned. But Lady Smith's judgment is deeply flawed - failing to recognise the true nature of abortion and the right to conscientious objection.

Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow, in whose Archdiocese, the Southern General Hospital is located has said:

Any law or judgement which fails to recognise this contradicts that most basic freedom and duty which we all have as human beings, namely to follow our conscience and act accordingly.

I wish to put on record my admiration for the courage of the midwives who have, at very great cost to themselves, fought to uphold the right to follow one's conscience.

Connie and Mary have endured an enormous personal burden in their fight. In March 2010, for instance, Connie was transferred to non-labour ward duties, while Mary has been on long-term sick-leave suffering from stress-related illness.

And when you realise what Mary and Connie's macabre new roles would have entailed for them, you begin to understand why they have been prepared to suffer so much and take the stand they have:

  • One such 'duty' is to find out before the baby is actually aborted whether or not the mother aborting her child wishes to see and hold the aborted baby following delivery.  In most instances the baby is born dead but occasionally, if the baby is of an older gestational age, he or she may be born alive, in which case the midwife has to explain this to the parents.  If the baby is  still alive, the midwife has to observe him or her until there are no signs of life and it dies helplessly.
  • Other duties include taking the dead baby from the parents, identifying and wrapping the baby in a hospital gown, placing him or her in a mortuary container—or plastic specimen container if of an early gestation—and arranging for transfer, with all completed documentation, to the hospital mortuary, by the porter.

SPUC's executive felt that they had no choice but to back the midwives' legal challenge for justice, and unanimously voted to fund the cost of their appeal. You may well be thinking, 'surely the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) must come to their aid'. Not so. Not only have Connie and Mary been badly let down by their employer, but they have been abandoned by the professional bodies which should have stood by them and supported them in their fight.

The RCM issued a shocking and outrageous statement in the wake of the judgement which can only be described as a betrayal of the noble profession of midwifery. Gillian Smith, RCM director for Scotland, said that they were "delighted that this case has given clarity to what has been a very difficult situation for all individuals concerned."

Lady Smith's deplorable judgement is not just an arbitrary, isolated attack on unborn babies and those who defend them. A determined full-scale attack on the sanctity of life is being conducted by very powerful, sinister forces that hold huge sway in Parliament, the media and the courts.

In recent years clear evidence has emerged of a deadly strategy unfolding to undermine and nullify laws which protect pro-life conscientious objectors.

  • In 2005, the pro-euthanasia Mental Capacity Act was passed and now, in some cases, doctors must starve and dehydrate patients to death. And if they refuse to do this doctors, and nurses too, can be dismissed and treated as criminals.
  • In that same year, 2005, a government-endorsed document entitled Recommended Standards for Sexual Health, intensified pressure on medical staff and other public employees, such as social workers. The document includes a thinly-veiled warning of severe punitive action against health care professionals who break a strict code of secrecy concerning abortions for children under 16-years old.
  • And in 2008, pro-abortion amendments in the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Bill (later Act) threatened legislation which would have impeded, harassed and prosecuted pro-life pregnancy support groups that reach out to women with advertising containing factual pro-life information. Thanks to a major campaigning effort headed by SPUC, the amendments were dramatically dropped at the last moment when lobbying pressure was successfully brought to bear on then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
  • In 2010, leading European pro-abortionists published a report for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on conscientious objection in medicine that sought to force doctors and nurses to cooperate in abortion against their will. Again, SPUC fought back against the odds and the Council of Europe approved a report defending conscience instead.

All of these examples are disturbing signs of what is ahead.

The goal of the pro-abortion movement is to ensure the widest possible provision of abortion they can. And that means doctors, nurses and midwives participating in the killing of innocent babies, whether they like it or not.

And if we do not fight back now, legal protection for conscientious objectors who oppose killing babies could be almost completely undermined.

What can you do to help?

Take action

SPUC has produced a petition in support of Connie and Mary. You can order copies from us by emailing information@spuc.org.uk or by calling 020 7091 7091. Please help us collect collect signatures to show the High Court that the British public doesn't want medical professionals to be forced to cooperate in killing the innocent.

Share this post with others

If you're reading this post online then the chances are that you have a significant number of friends and contacts, most of whom probably know nothing about this tragic case. Please share it with them and encourage them to support the lives of unborn children and those who wish to care for them, not kill them. Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, through email or any other means available to you.

Talk to others about this too. Read over the post again, familiarise yourself with the details so that you can confidently explain it to others who may or not support the right to life of the unborn and the right not to be involved in any way with abortion.

Donate

I realise that many of the readers of this blog are young people, but if you're in a position to donate even a small amount to our work then please do. We estimate that our appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session could cost over £100,000. You can donate online, or by calling SPUC on 020 7091 7091.

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