‘I support abortion, but think RC midwives ruling is wrong’

A doctor who supports abortion says he disagrees with the recent ruling affecting two Roman Catholic midwives who have a conscientious objection to abortion.

Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Max Pemberton said that it seems “entirely wrong to force people to take part in something that they feel so strongly about”.

Earlier this month, the UK Supreme Court overturned a previous decision in the case, involving Mary Doogan and Connie Wood, after an appeal by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Beggars belief

The landmark judgement by the five Supreme Court justices rejected the view that the right of conscience extended to the whole process of abortion. It ruled instead that conscientious objection only applied where an individual was “taking part in a hands-on capacity”.

Pemberton commented that he has “no moral issue with abortion”, but the case “beggars belief”.

“I can’t believe their wishes couldn’t have been accommodated by the hospital in some way. It just seems the right thing to do”, he said.

No benefit

Pemberton, who writes a weekly column for the Telegraph, said he hoped the midwives have a “sensible manager” who would arrange their rota so they could not have any involvement.

“The alternative is that two senior, incredibly experienced healthcare professionals leave their jobs, and that would serve no benefit at all”, he concluded.

The Supreme Court case focused on the scope of the right that the midwives have to object on the grounds of conscience under the Abortion Act 1967, and particularly the meaning of the words “to participate in any treatment authorised by this Act to which he has a conscientious objection”.

Deliberations will now continue in the ongoing Employment Tribunal case brought by the midwives, which Supreme Court judge Lady Hale stated would be much better suited to resolve the question of practicable adjustments.

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