When conscience isn't clear: Greater Glasgow Health Board v Doogan and Another [2014] UKSC 68

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The Supreme Court’s judgment in Doogan is a judicial review of a decision by Greater Glasgow Health Board regarding the scope of the conscience-based exemption in section 4(1) of the Abortion Act 1967. The case progressed through the Outer and Inner Houses of the Court of Session in Edinburgh before final judgment was delivered in the Supreme Court by Baroness Hale on 17th December 2014. The Supreme Court eschewed consideration of the human rights dimension of the case (which had featured in the Outer House decision) and approached its judgment as ‘a pure question of statutory construction’. This commentary engages with the judgment on its own terms, assessing it as an exercise in statutory interpretation, and leaves it to others who may wish to do so to comment on the human rights aspects of the case.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-682
Number of pages15
JournalMedical Law Review
Issue number4
Early online date30 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Abortion Act 1967
  • Section 4(1)
  • conscience
  • conscience-based exemptions
  • statutory interpretation
  • United Kingdom Supreme Court

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