Midwives and other healthcare professionals have no statutory right to conscientious objection
Northern Ireland midwives who object to providing abortion care have been advised by their professional body to inform their management as soon as possible.
The new arrangements mean that women will not be criminalised for seeking an abortion and midwives and other healthcare professionals will not be criminally prosecuted for providing abortion services.
However, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said that at the moment, “midwives and other healthcare professionals continue to have no statutory right to conscientious objection”. . . . [Full text]
Midwife voices fear for conscientious objectors if NI legislation changes
Health workers in Northern Ireland could be left “exposed” by changes to abortion law, a lecturer in midwifery has claimed.
Debbie Duncan spent over 30 years working as a midwife in Scotland and England and now lectures at the school of nursing and midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast.
She was never obliged to take part in abortions during her career as the law allowed her to conscientiously object.
Ms Duncan said she fears “too much change with no regulation” means the same protections may not apply here. . . [Full text]
Catholic Universe-The Catholic Times
Pro-life groups have claimed that the recent drop in applications to midwifery courses could be rectified by enshrining conscientious objection.
Recent figures show that there has been a 35 per cent drop in the number of applicants to midwifery courses since 2013. The Royal College of Midwives (RCM), which analysed the latest Ucas data for England, said the biggest reduction was in those aged 21 or over.
In 2013, more than 12,000 people aged over 21 applied for a midwifery course in England, but by 2017 that figure had dropped to just 6,700 – a decrease of 45 per cent. . . [Full text]
Pro-choice groups have condemned an attempt to create new laws that would allow doctors and nurses to refuse to take part in abortions on moral grounds.
A private bill going through the House of Lords that would expand rights of conscientious objection for healthcare professionals has been dismissed as unnecessary by abortion providers and campaigners.
Those in favour of the bill, sponsored by the Northern Irish crossbench peer Nuala O’Loan, insisted their aim was not to restrict abortion but to uphold freedom of belief and religion they claim is under threat in hospitals since a contentious supreme court ruling in 2014. . . [Full text]
Christian Medical Fellowship Blogs
Fallout from the Glasgow Midwives case continues to roll out. This month the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) released (rather quietly) their new position statement on abortion. The case of Doogan & Wood highlighted an issue with the conscientious objection clause in the 1967 Abortion Act. Specifically this was around what constituted actually being involved in an abortion procedure.
The two senior midwives at a Glaswegian maternity unit made it clear that they did not wish to be responsible for supervising junior staff involved in termination of pregnancy procedures on the basis of a conscientious objection to abortion.
Although the Scottish Court of Appeal upheld their claim, The Supreme Court eventually ruled that they had no right to opt out of supervision, delegation or support of junior staff, as the right to conscientious objection only applied to those involved in direct, clinical procedures. Supervisory roles or other areas of care could not be subject to the right to conscientious objection in the Abortion Act. . . [Full Text]