Catholic midwives successful in claim over abortions
1st May, 2013
Two Roman Catholic midwives have this week won their case against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde on appeal, meaning that as a result of their religious beliefs they are no longer required to take part in any element of abortion procedures. This means that they can refuse to delegate, supervise and support staff involved in carrying out abortions. Mary Doogan and Concepta Wood, who believe that a foetus has a right to life, relied on section 4 of the Abortion Act 1967 which provides a right of conscientious objection to participation in treatment.
Ms Doogan and Mrs Wood challenged the fact that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde required them to delegate, supervise and support staff involved in carrying out abortions. They claimed that their conscientious objection extended to the whole of their duties (save for their legal duty to carry out treatment necessary to save life or to prevent grave permanent injury) and that it applied to the whole team whose involvement was necessary during the abortion procedure.
Following a judicial review last year, the Court of Session however ruled that their human rights had not been violated as they were not directly involved in the terminations. Lady Smith held “they are sufficiently removed from direct involvement as, it seems to me, to afford appropriate respect for and accommodation of their beliefs”. The midwives appealed this decision and their appeal has been upheld. The ruling, published on Wednesday by the appeal judges said, “in our view the right of conscientious objection extends not only to the actual medical or surgical termination but to the whole process of treatment given for that purpose”.
This case could have a real impact on employers in terms of the potential for claims to be brought on the grounds of religious belief discrimination.
For further information or advice in relation to dealing with discrimination claims and managing religious beliefs within your organisation, please contact Helen Watson on 01244 405565 or send an email to [email protected].
You might also be interested in...
18th July, 2018
Special Focus: Solicitors’ Professional Indemnity Insurance Run-off – it dominates the thoughts of sole practitioners and partners in smaller law firms in my experience and restricts the ambitions of firms. The SRA could help law firms by relaxing their rules on run-off cover on their Solicitors’ Professional Indemnity Insurance to help firms merge or close more easily. This would protect... Read More »
17th July, 2018
Helen Watson, Head of Employment Law at Aaron & Partners LLP, has taken up an invitation to become a Trustee of both the Trust Board and the Main Board Theatr Clwyd has bolstered its senior leadership team with the appointment of an experienced employment law solicitor to support its vision of being at the forefront of theatre making... Read More »
6th July, 2018
When a business invests in its community it deserves praise – but it must go beyond that, writes Helen Watson, a trustee at Claire House and partner at Aaron and Partners Solicitors. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the link between a company and the community in which it operates. As a trustee on charity boards including Claire House... Read More »