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The Iona Blog

Scotland’s labour wards: No Catholics need apply

Author: David Quinn
Date: 1st March 2012

Two Catholic midwives in Scotland have been told by a court that they must supervise and support staff in the labour ward of their hospital who perform abortions irrespective of their religious convictions.

As reported by Catholic News Agency, Scotland’s highest civil court ruled that the women’s religious liberties were not being infringed because “the nature of their duties does not in fact require them to provide treatment to terminate pregnancies directly”.

However, as senior staff, they are also expected to be on standby to help in abortion procedures in certain medical situations. In other words, their duties might include assisting directly in abortions after all.

When the two women, Mary Doogan and Connie Wood, entered their chosen profession of midwifery, they must have imagined their sole purpose would be to help women deliver healthy babies, healthily. In other words, they must have imagined they were entering a quintessentially pro-life profession.

They cannot ever have dreamt that one day the main purpose of labour wards would not be to help mothers deliver healthy babies, healthily, but to help women either deliver their babies, or kill them, according to their choice.

In other words, the purpose of labour wards in Scotland (as elsewhere) is now to help pregnant women do whatever they wish with their unborn babies.

This is a total negation and corruption of what the midwifery profession has always been about.

But as bad and all as this it, the situation is now even worse, in that it appears to be impossible for pro-life nurses to become midwives in Scotland given this week’s ruling.

How can any conscientious pro-life nurse become a midwife in Scotland if one of their duties is to supervise and support fellow staff who perform abortions, let alone the possibility that in given circumstances they may have to assist in any abortion directly themselves?

In the past, only women who wished to deliver their babies were cared for in the labour ward of the hospital in question. Women who wanted to have an abortion did so elsewhere in the hospital.

That was hardly ideal, given that abortion is wrong in itself, but at least it allowed the two midwives in question to have neither hand, act nor part in abortion.

Given this latest ruling, it seems Scotland has joined the growing list of countries that is effectively barring Catholics (and others who are pro-life) from entering parts of the medical profession.

The Scottish decision this week is a very serious attack on conscience and more generally on an ethic that respects all human life at all stages.

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