(Extra Division, Inner House) The reclaimers, Roman Catholic midwives working on a labour ward as co-ordinators, sought to assert a right of conscientious objection under the 1967 Act. The respondents said that only those directly involved in the termination of a pregnancy could assert such a right.
Held: The midwives’ appeal succeeded. The Act set out an exhaustive statement of the arrangements for lawful abortions. ‘The conscientious objection in section 4 is given, not because the acts in question were previously, or may have been, illegal. The right is given because it is recognised that the process of abortion is felt by many people to be morally repugnant . . It is in keeping with the reason for the exemption that the wide interpretation which we favour should be given to it. It is consistent with the reasoning which allowed such an objection in the first place that it should extend to any involvement in the process of treatment, the object of which is to terminate a pregnancy.’ The actions required of the nurses went beyond administrative support and amouunted to active involvement in the treatment processes.
Lady Dorran expanded on the entitlement to conscientious objection: ‘The right is given because it is recognised that the process of abortion is felt by many people to be morally repugnant. As Lord Diplock observed in the RCN case, it is a matter on which many people have strong moral and religious convictions, and the right of conscientious objection is given out of respect for those convictions and not for any other reason. It is in keeping with the reason for the exemption that the wide interpretation which we favour should be given to it. It is consistent with the reasoning which allowed such an objection in the first place that it should extend to any involvement in the process of treatment, the object of which is to terminate a pregnancy.’
Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, Lady Dorrian, Lord McEwan
 ScotCS CSIH – 36
Abortion Act 1967 4(2)
Cited – Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom v Department of Health and Social Security HL 2-Jan-1981
The court was asked whether nurses could properly involve themselves in a pregnancy termination procedure not known when the Act was passed, and in particular, whether a pregnancy was ‘terminated by a medical practitioner’, when it was carried out . .
Cited – Janaway v Salford Area Health Authority HL 1-Feb-1988
The plaintiff took work as a secretary at a health centre, but objected to having to type out letters referring patients to an abortion clinic, saying that she conscientiously objected to participation in the process.
Held: Her appeal was . .
Cited – Christian Education South Africa v Minister of Education 2001
(South African Constitutional Court) The court emphasised the fundamental importance of the right to express one’s religion in a pluralistic, multi-cultural society.
Sachs J observed: ‘The underlying problem in any open and democratic society . .
Cited – Regina v Secretary of State for Education and Employment and others ex parte Williamson and others HL 24-Feb-2005
The appellants were teachers in Christian schools who said that the blanket ban on corporal punishment interfered with their religious freedom. They saw moderate physical discipline as an essential part of educating children in a Christian manner. . .
Cited – Isle of Anglesey County Council and Another v The Welsh Ministries and others CA 20-Feb-2009
The claimants, the Commissioners and the County Council, sought declarations to establish their right to build a marina on parts of the foreshore currently used for commercial mussel fishing. Section 40 of the 1868 Act authorised ministers to make . .
Appeal from – Doogan and Another, Re Judicial Review SCS 29-Feb-2012
(Outer House, Court of Session) Midwives worked on a labour ward which also had care of patients having later terminations. As sincere Roman Catholics, they sought to assert a right of conscientious objection to allow them to be excused from taking . .
Cited – Bayatyan v Armenia ECHR 7-Jul-2011
(Grand Chamber) The applicant was a practising Jehovah’s Witness and a conscientious objector. He said that his conviction for refusing to serve in the army had violated his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. That complaint had . .
Cited – British Pregnancy Advisory Service v Secretary of State for Health Admn 14-Feb-2011
The claimant sought a declaration that the administration of an abortifacient drug was not ‘any treatment for the termination of pregnancy’ for the purposes of section 1 of the 1967 Act, allowing the piloting and possible adoption of early medical . .
Cited – Ghai, Regina (on The Application of) v Newcastle City Council and Others CA 10-Feb-2010
The claimant appealed against a refusal of an order refusing him permission to use land for the purposes of an open air cremations, as required by his religion.
Held: His appeal succeeded. The 1902 Act should be interpreted generously in its . .
Cited – Rex v Bourne 1939
An eminent surgeon openly in a public hospital operated to terminate the pregnancy of a 14 year old girl who had become pregnant in consequence of a violent rape.
Held: The court suggested when summing up that there might be a duty in certain . .
Appeal from – Greater Glasgow Health Board v Doogan and Another SC 17-Dec-2014
Roman Catholic Midwives, working as Labour Ward Co-ordinators had objected to being involved in an administrative capacity in abortions being conducted by the appellants. The Outer House had said they were not entitled to opt out, but the Inner . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 02 May 2021; Ref: scu.472959