Abortion care

On the subject of the Catholic midwives case (your report, 18 December), Archbishop Philip Tartaglia claims that the decision impacts on the right of every 
citizen to follow their conscience in the workplace.

Has he any notion at all of how such a scenario would play out in practice, whereby the workplace must be reorganised around one individual employee’s conscience? Or is he just concerned that Catholic conscience should override any other consideration in the workplace, such as the health of female hospital patients at their most vulnerable?

Abortion legislation does provide a right to Catholic midwives to have their conscience respected in society and at work, and Wednesday’s well-reasoned ruling by the Supreme Court has qualified that right in the interests of the patients, which should always be paramount.

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The Archbishop’s claim, that “all of society is a poorer, less respectful and less tolerant place as a result of this decision”, is utter, if predictable, nonsense. In fact, the very opposite is the case.

Public services in Scotland will not be organised around the religious dogma of one or two individuals, and this can only benefit society as a whole, and the NHS 
in particular.

Alistair McBay

National Secular Society

Atholl Crescent


I have some sympathy with the two Catholic midwives whose exemption from taking part even in indirect roles associated with pregnancy termination was overturned by the Supreme Court.

It seems unfair to suggest that “they shouldn’t have taken the job in the first place” if their job description did not originally involve such duties.

No-one should be forced to do something they don’t want to but where do we draw the line when we discuss “participation” in a medical procedure? Might a cleaner be similarly allowed exemption from his duties?

Refusing even to supervise and support colleagues involved, or to care for the women who wish pregnancy terminations is a step too far and allows religious politics to trump patient care.

Everyone’s job description evolves. Medical professionals should leave their religions in the changing room.

Neil Barber

Edinburgh Secular Society

Saughtonhall Drive