Law & Religion 2014 and 2015: retrospect and prospect – Part II

To resume where we left off yesterday…

Abortion and conscientious objection

In December the Supreme Court ruled on Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board’s appeal against the judgment of the Inner House in Doogan & Anor v NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board [2013] ScotCS CSIH 36. The Inner House had overturned the decision of the Lord Ordinary [Lady Smith], who had refused the petition of Mary Doogan and Connie Wood,Greater Glasgow HB labour-ward coordinators at the Glasgow Southern General Hospital, for judicial review of the dismissal of their conscientious objection to supervising staff involved in abortions. In the Inner House, Lady Dorrian had justified a wide interpretation of the conscientious opt-out in section 4 of the Abortion Act 1967 because

“it is recognised that the process of abortion is felt by many people to be morally repugnant … [I]t 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” [para 38].

The Supreme Court took precisely the opposite view. Continue reading