TWO devout Catholic midwives have taken a health board to court for allegedly failing to recognise their conscientious objection to supervising staff involved in abortions.
Mary Doogan (57) and Concepta Wood (51) told health board officials they were not prepared to delegate, supervise or support staff who were looking after patients through "the processes of medical termination of pregnancy".
They went to court after their position was rejected by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and hope to have the board's ruling set aside in a judicial review.
The women claim the refusal to recognise their entitlement to conscientious objection is "unreasonable" and violates their rights under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights , which guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. They describe themselves as practising Roman Catholics and say "that termination of pregnancy is a grave offence against human life".
They claim their involvement in the process of termination is wrongful and "an offence against God" and the teachings of their church.
Ms Doogan and Ms Wood, both midwifery sisters at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, are seeking a ruling at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on their entitlement to conscientious objection.
David Johnston, counsel for the women, told the judge Lady Smith that they were long-standing employees and the matter only became an issue for them in 2007. They had both previously given notice of conscientious objection to any involvement in abortions.
Ms Doogan has been absent from work through ill-health since 2010 as a result of the dispute, while her colleague has been transferred to maternity assessment work.
The hearing continues. (© Daily Telegraph, London).