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Midwives should be able to conscientiously object to abortions and not be forced to supervise them

If you decide to become a midwife you do so because you want to assist mothers in bringing new life into the world. The reason you become a midwife is not to end life, but that's what midwives are expected to do. 

Mary Doogan has delivered around 5,000 babies in a career that lasted three decades. She was devoted to her job. She described it as a vocation. She is also a devout Catholic, therefore she is opposed to abortion. But you don't have to be a Catholic to hold that position. As Mary rightly points out, you could be a Jew or an atheist and still oppose abortion. As long as people are not forcing their views on others, everyone in a free society should respect the views of others and not force them to do something which in all conscience they cannot do. 

During her career in an NHS hospital, Mary did supervise abortions, however, she did her best to avoid it. Colleagues who understood her position volunteered to replace her. But through restructuring, and because Mary became through her years of devoted service, a senior midwife, she found herself being asked to supervise abortions more than in the past. Although she never performed the procedure and was only there in case something went wrong, she felt that she could no longer do it. 

Cruelly, NHS bosses told her that you would be disciplined if she refused. Mary thought she was protected by a conscience clause in the Abortion Act introduced by David Steel in 1967. This is when Mary and one of her colleagues sought legal clarification. Three judges in the Court of Session in Edinburgh found in Mary and her colleague's favour. They thought that was it. 

Two years later, in 2014, the Supreme Court in London overruled the Court of Session after the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
Health Board appealed the decision. This was when Mary realised that she could no longer do the job she loved. She opted for early retirement. 

This Supreme Court decision will and must result in fewer people coming forward to enter the profession. Certainly fewer people who feel that they cannot in all conscience do the job. 

Not only is this sad, it is wrong. People like Mary are not guilty of professional misconduct. They are victims of an injustice. They are victims of a supposedly caring, but uncaring, profession that says you must leave your principals and your conscience at the front door. The medical profession of all professions must know that people are not robots. It is impossible for those who are opposed to abortion to do that. 

This does not only affect midwives, it affects all medical professionals working in the NHS. There must be a change in the law to protect people those who conscientiously object to abortion. It is too late for Mary. At 63 years old, she is retired and is not going back. But it isn't too late for others. 

Baroness O'Loan's Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill passed its second reading in the House of Lords last month. The Bill is supported by Lord Alton, a former Liberal MP, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, a former Lord Chancellor, and other Peers including Freedom Association Council member, Baroness Cox. 

As Lord Alton said in his article in the Daily Mail this week, the Bill is doomed unless it can attract public support. I was unaware of it, and I work full-time in politics. The chances of the general public being aware of it is virtually zero. 

If you agree that all healthcare professionals should have the right to conscientiously object, PLEASE WRITE TO YOUR MP and let them know. This campaign needs to generate a head of steam and can only do so with your help. 

Please also consider supporting the 'Reclaiming religious freedom in the UK' campaign which is supported by The Freedom Association. 


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