Three years ago Cecilia Moore was fired from the B.C. Ministry of Human Resources for refusing to sign and issue a certificate covering abortion expenses. This her supervisor had ordered her to do despite the fact that the applicant was not qualified for an abortion under the province’s health insurance plan or the Criminal Code, and that it offended Moore’s conscience to participate in an abortion.
Since then she has fought in the courts to have this violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms remedied. In early February of this year the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld a previous ruling dismissing her wrongful dismissal claim against the ministry.
The same court also ruled that a proceeding under the Charter was unnecessary since “just and appropriate relief” was available to her in the province’s Human Rights Council or the grievance procedure of her union.
Shortly after her firing, Moore filed a grievance with her union however, that body declined to take her grievance to arbitration since, in its opinion, her action had been mere disobedience. ‘Work first, grieve later,’ was its view. Cecilia Moore cannot be faulted if she now feels she is going in circles in B.C.’s legal system.
Despite this most recent setback, (not to mention the burden of nearly $80,000 in legal costs), Moore has pledged to pursue her goal of legislative protection for those who refuse to be a party to abortion.
Moore is planning to pursue one or more courses of action. Among these she may discontinue the action and begin a new one framed differently; file a charge of unfair representation against her union; or apply for leave to appeal in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Whatever option she chooses next, Moore will fight on as long as it takes, she dais, “to secure conscience clause protection for the right of those who respect human life…to work in their chosen field with the assurance that they can refuse to be a party…to abortion.”
Moore is not interested in returning to her job. Like Constable David Packer of Toronto, who was also fired for refusing to obey an illegal and immoral order, or the nurses who will not assist in abortions, Moore has discovered that the defending the right to life of unborn children also means defending the fundamental constitutional right of every citizen to freedom of conscience.