medical law Cases

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Janaway v Salford Health Authority (1989) AC 537

Conscientious Objection

Conscientious objection defence under Section 4 (1) of the Abortion Act 1967 applied only to persons who are actually involved in the abortion operation.

In this case, a secretary was requested to type a letter which referred a patient to a consultant in regards termination of the client's pregnancy. She refused to carry out the doctor's instruction claiming conscientious objection under section 4 (1) Abortion Act 1961. This section provided that 'no person shall be under any duty, whether by contract or by any statutory or other legal requirement, to participate in any treatment authorised by this Act to which he has a conscientious objection.'

The court held that natural meaning of 'participate in' should be given to it. It means taking part in the treatment for the purpose of termination the abortion.