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Potential conflicts in midwifery practice regarding conscientious objection to abortions in Scotland

Fleming, V and Robb, Y (2017) Potential conflicts in midwifery practice regarding conscientious objection to abortions in Scotland. Nursing Ethics, 26 (2). pp. 564-575. ISSN 0969-7330

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Background: This study was developed as a result of a court case involving conflicts between midwives’ professional practice and their faith when caring for women undergoing abortions in Scotland.
Research questions: What are practising Roman Catholics’ perspectives of potential conflicts between midwives’ professional practice in Scotland with regard to involvement in abortions and their faith? How relevant is the ‘conscience clause’ to midwifery practice today? and What are participants’ understandings of Canon 1398 in relation to midwifery practice?
Research design: The theoretical underpinning of this study was Gadamer’s hermeneutic out of which the method developed by Fleming et al. involving a five-stage approach was utilised.
Participants and research context: The research was conducted in the south of Scotland. A purposive sampling method was used. Eight participants who were practising Roman Catholics familiar with the subject of conscientious objection who were either midwives, lawyers (civil, canon or both) or priests contributed.
Ethical considerations: The major ethical issues related to respect for autonomy, maintaining confidentiality and obtaining voluntary informed consent. Parish priests agreed to act as gatekeepers to prospective participants. All legal requirements were addressed regarding data collection and storage. Approval was given by the ethics committee of the university with which one of the researchers were associated.
Findings: Three key themes provide an understanding of the situation in which midwives find themselves when considering the care for a woman admitted for an abortion: competing legal systems, competing views of conscience and limits of participation.
Conclusion: Clear guidelines for practice should be developed by a multi-professional and consumer group based on an update of the abortion law to reflect the change from a surgical to medical procedure. Clarification of Canon 1398 in relation to what is and is not participation in the procurement of abortion would be of benefit to midwives with a conscientious objection.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2201 Applied Ethics, 1110 Nursing
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Divisions: Nursing & Allied Health
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 15 May 2019 10:42
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 09:25
DOI or ID number: 10.1177/0969733017708332
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10698
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